On-the-spot testing for liver fluke will be at the heart of a project scheduled to bring rapid intervention methods against the disease to farmers within five years.
The new diagnostic toolkit is already christened Flukeless by its developers, Tyndall National Institute, based in Cork, one of Europe’s leading research centres in Information and Communications Technology, but now turning its attention to the agri-food field.
Tyndall recently were awarded an agriculture research grant of €878,883 from the Govern-ment’s Research Stimulus Fund for the Flukeless project, and is also taking part in a €900,000 research and development project on bovine respiratory disease (BRD), Ireland’s main cause of calf death.
At the heart of the BRD project is also development of a sensor-based diagnostic kit, to simultaneously test within 15 minutes for the four main BRD viral agents.
Principal Investigator Dr Alan O’Riordan said Flukeless will be developed in collaboration with Teagasc, University College Dublin, Zoetis, the Enfer Group and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation.
He said existing lab-based tests for fluke can take up to three weeks between sampling and results coming back to the farmer.
The project aim is to develop on-the-spot testing (probably a blood test) to determine which animals need treatment for fluke.
Compared to routine fluke dosing, costs can be saved, and flukicide residues reduced.
Liver fluke is estimated to cost Irish farmers €25 million annually, plus a €90m cost to the food industry.
Flukeless will also be used to build disease mapping which farmers can use to assess the local fluke risk, and will feed into programmes for breeding fluke-resistant animals.
Tyndall brings an impressive record to agri-research, generating about €30m of income per year, 85% from competitively won contracts with 200 industry partners and customers worldwide.
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