Roslin Technologies invests in diagnostic for trypanosomiasis, a global disease of livestock
Roslin Technologies, the UK’s specialist AgTech venture builder, is delighted to be helping combat a key threat to livestock by investing in the development of a diagnostic test for trypanosomiasis, an infection caused by microscopic parasites called trypanosomes that, in most cases, are transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. The work, undertaken through partnership with Dr Finn Grey and Prof. Liam Morrison of the Roslin Institute, focuses on developing a test that picks up active infection in affected cattle. Current tests struggle to identify animals with active infections; this results in over-use of anti-parasitic drugs than necessary, which accelerates drug resistance among the parasites, which in turn makes treatments less effective.
The disease is devastating to both livestock and the communities that depend on them for their livelihood. Infected animals suffer from severe anaemia and wasting, which impacts milk and meat yields and can be fatal, leading to an estimated loss of $3 billion annually, according to estimates from the University of Glasgow – (2016) There is currently no available vaccine and the best method to control the disease is to identify those animals with the disease and treat them accordingly. The test being developed is based on the detection of a small RNA molecule associated with the parasite, which can also be used to differentiate between different trypanosome species. We are very pleased to be working with Roslin Institute and Edinburgh Innovations to expedite the commercial development of this much needed test to bring it to market and make a positive impact on both society and the livestock industry. Our studies will validate the sensitivity and specificity of the test and will adapt it from a research format to a commercial one, whilst securing the patent for the IP behind the test.
Tackling trypanosomiasis is a key step in a commercial solution to help solidify the global food chain, while at the same time helping people in some of the most challenged parts of the globe. In South America, where more than 20% of the world cattle population is farmed, the parasite is an emerging serious threat to the international food supply. In sub-Saharan Africa, trypanosomiasis can be devastating, impacting cattle and other draught animals, which are relied on by some of the world’s poorest people.
An accurate test will also help monitor the success of disease control strategies that target the flies that carry the parasite, for example. Some trypanosome species also infect humans and reducing the instances in animals can reduce the occurrence in people.
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Dr. Liam Morrison and Dr. Finn Grey, Principal Investigators at the Roslin Institute said:
“The small RNA diagnostic test is a truly novel approach for African Animal Trypanosomiasis detection, for which there are very few current diagnostic options. We hope that developing this test will have a beneficial impact on livestock production in trypanosomiasis affected countries, and that the test can be further developed for detection of other pathogens.”
Prof. Jacqui Matthews, Roslin Technologies Ltd commented:
“We are very pleased to be working with the University of Edinburgh team to take this much-needed test to the next stage in its commercial development. Our company focuses on finding innovative solutions for challenges in the AgriTech sector, including the development of tools that we hope will have a strong impact to reduce the burden of infectious disease with a resultant improvement in food security across continents”
Siân Ringrose, Business Development Executive of Edinburgh Innovations said:
As the University’s commercialisation arm, Edinburgh Innovations is delighted with the dedication and progress this collaborative initiative has made and will continue to make in the coming months. As part of the multi-organisational team it’s been fantastic to have been able to support the development of this diagnostic tool, which will hopefully provide a wide range of stakeholders globally with an affordable and highly accurate diagnostic for such a devastating livestock disease.