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DAFM Award

EMIDA EraNet Call 2011 11/RD/EMIDA/1 UCD 281,905

Project Title:

Development of Novel Diagnostic strategies for the anti-mortem immunodiagnosis of bovine tuberculosis and Johne's disease:

Project Coordinator:

Dr. Stephen Gordon

Project Abstract

Mycobacterial infections of livestock such as bovine tuberculosis (bTB) or Johne’s disease (JD) exact a high cost on European agriculture. bTB and JD are chronic inflammatory diseases caused by Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) and M. avium paratuberculosis (MAP), respectively. Detection and slaughter of M. bovis infected animals is required under EU law but JD control relies on voluntary cooperation. Both diseases can affect multiple domestic animal and wildlife species. The mainstay of bTB control is the skin test often combined with blood based interferon-γ (IFNG) release assays (IGRA); and serology. Detection of JD relies on serology (ELISAs). The diagnostics based on cellular immunity (CMI) measure responses to bovine, avian and johnin tuberculin (aka PPD), or similar crude cell or antigen extracts which have severe specificity and sensitivity limitations. These preparations share common antigens between different species of mycobacteria and their efficacy in the various tests can vary. With respect to bTB diagnosis, sensitivity and specificity of the comparative tuberculin skin test or the IGRA is severely compromised in animals that are dually infected with M. bovis and MAP as MAP infection results in high avian PPD responses masking bovine tuberculin responses. Vaccination of animals with current commercially available JD vaccines similarly produces immune responses that confound the diagnostic tests. Further, due to cross reactivity, PPD-based reagents in M. bovis skin testing elicits immune responses that may confound subsequent immunological detection of both diseases when complex antigen reagents such as whole bacterial extracts are being applied. Clearly there is an urgent need for specific diagnostic reagents for these important diseases and a requirement to validate diagnostic tests multi-nationally against a background of common mycobacterial infections. The overall project aim was to improve the diagnosis of BTB and JD by generating more specific tools not compromised for sensitivity or specificity by co-infection and to increase the knowledge base of these two important livestock disease. The underlying philosophy of our consortium was based on a multi-pronged translational research approach combined with a fundamental and basic research arm. To deliver this goal, a consortium was formed of 11 partners from 7 countries (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland) through this ‘MycobactDiagnosis’ ERA-NET, with funding from individual national governments. This report will focus on the research work of UCD funded by DAFM.

Final Report:

Final Report (pdf 516Kb)