Dr Ben Swift, Director of R&D at PBD Biotech, will be talking about this new, highly sensitive test at the Action Johne’s Conference later this month (30 January). Highlighting how Actiphage, applied to both blood and milk samples, can help dairy farmers and producers.
Currently the only test for viable MAP in milk is culturing the bacteria in the laboratory, which takes many weeks and is not very sensitive.
Dr Ben Swift comments, “Actiphage directly detects MAP using a type of virus, known as a bacteriophage, which only infects live mycobacteria and can penetrate their thick cell wall. Once inside the mycobacteria the phage grows rapidly and eventually breaks open the cell, releasing the bacterial DNA, which can then be sensitively detected, confirming of the presence or absence of MAP in milk or blood within hours.”
Dr Swift will explain that Actiphage offers higher sensitivity as a milk test. Currently the dairy industry conducts routine milk tests to detect and monitor antibodies against the bacteria, but the Actiphage technology shows that commercially available milk contains low levels of live bacteria even after pasteurisation. The presence of live MAP in retail milk is of increasing concern as the bacterium is under growing scrutiny for its possible role in Crohn’s disease.*
Commenting on one of the milk trials undertaken at the University of Nottingham, which was published in leading journal Food Microbiology, Dr Swift said, “In this controlled study, Actiphage was able to detect just 1-2 mycobacteria cells per 50 ml of pasteurised milk, highlighting just how sensitive this novel technology is.”
The Actiphage diagnostic provides an opportunity for the dairy industry to improve quality assurance at every stage of the value food chain as well as providing feedback on herd health and management of Johne’s disease.
“This new technology has the potential to revolutionise the control and understanding of mycobacterial infection and control from livestock, wildlife and human health and has strong potential for application in food quality control too,” said PBD Biotech’s Commercial Director Mark Hammond.
“Actiphage gives dairy producers, vets and farmers a head start on the race to discover live mycobacteria, and provides another tool in the management of food quality and animal welfare.”
Actiphage can also be used on blood samples to identify infection. Traditional tests for MAP rely on either detecting an antibody response to the infection using ELISA tests for blood or milk, or culture of the Mycobacterium organism.
The Action Johne’s Conference will take place on at the Sixways Stadium, Worcester on Wednesday 30 January 2019.
* References for the implication of MAP in the development of Crohn’s disease
Bull et al, 2003. Detection and verification of Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis in fresh ileocolonic mucosal biopsy specimens from individuals with and without Crohn’s disease. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 41, 2915-2923
Feller et al, 2007. Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis and Crohn’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 7, 607-613
Rhodes et al, 2014. Mycobacterium avium Subspecies paratuberculosis: Human Exposure through Environmental and Domestic Aerosols. Pathogens. 3,557-595.