RVC academic’s bovine TB test wins royal recognition

A bovine tuberculosis (TB) test co-created by Royal Veterinary College (RVC) academic Dr Ben Swift has won the Royal Dairy Innovation Award. This test, which enables the rapid identification of cattle infected with Mycobacteria, was first developed by Dr Swift as part of his PhD studies at the University of Nottingham. Since joining the RVC, he has continued to evolve the technology working alongside academics at his former university.

Dr Swift and co-project lead Dr Cath Rees, were presented with the award by HRH the Princess Royal at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 16th April 2019.

The Royal Dairy Innovation Award recognises research and development in the field of dairy farming and is awarded for the most practical, relevant product or service which is, or likely to be the most significant innovation for the future.

The winning test is able to detect mycobacteria in the blood and milk of cattle, within just six hours using a bacteriophage-based technique. As a result, cattle affected byMycobacterium bovis, the bacteria that causes bovine TB, can be diagnosed for the disease more quickly, allowing for more effective disease management in herds.

Additionally, the test has been used to effectively detect Johne’s Disease – another endemic illness that affects dairy cattle – in new born calves for the first time. By being able to catch the disease at an early stage, this test can help further with controlling infections in dairy herds.

The test is now licenced to spin-out company, PBD Biotech Ltd and marketed as Actiphage™. It can also be used as a highly sensitive quality assurance test in milk and dairy products.

Dr Swift, who is a Research Fellow in antimicrobial resistance, said: “It is really exciting to be recognised with this award. Translating technology from the bench to be used in real-world scenarios is a great thing and really shows the impact of our research. Hopefully this will help manage two extremely difficult diseases in the UK and worldwide.”



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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.