The company has been working on a method to detect the presence of Mycobacteria – which cause diseases such as bovine TB and Johne’s disease in cattle – in blood and milk samples. These bacterial infections have major consequences in terms of animal health and productivity and can also be passed to humans through infected food and dairy products and therefore are also a concern for public health. The limitations of current diagnostic methods make these diseases very difficult to control and therefore a new technology for the earlier detection of infected animals is urgently required.
Existing tests for infections caused by Mycobacteria monitor the animal’s immune response and can miss infection in early stages. In addition, commercial tests to monitor the immune response have only been developed for a limited number of animal species. Since the PBD technology directly detects the presence of the bacteria it can pick up the infection much earlier and be applied to any animal species, including domestic pets and exotic species in zoos.
The founders aim to use the funds from Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative to fast-track their new technology into animal diagnostics for cattle, sheep, goats, companion animals and more. This will have a substantial positive impact on the industry, not only on animal health, but also by providing huge cost savings for animal health organisations, government agricultural departments, farmers, animal breeders and the food industry.
The grant will be used to catalyse the product research and development, and will create four new jobs.
Mark Reeve, Chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative Board and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, said: “This project will make important inroads in improving the efficiency of diagnosing livestock diseases that currently have a significant impact on the industry and beyond. Improving animal welfare is becoming increasingly important in the agricultural sector, which includes managing animals’ health and preventing the spread of disease. We look forward to seeing the results of this innovative project, and welcome the creation of new jobs in our area.”
Dr Berwyn Clarke, Chief Executive at PBD Biotech, said: “We are delighted to have secured this Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative grant. This technology could transform the diagnosis of Tuberculosis in animals and potentially, in the future, in humans too. This is an enormous global commercial opportunity that should result in significant trade and job creation within East Anglia and this grant is invaluable to the company as it takes its first steps to building its business.”
The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is run by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area. Grants are available to organisations looking to invest in specialist equipment, new market and supply chain development, ways to improve productivity and efficiency, and the application and commercialisation of Research and Development.
To find out how the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative could help to grow your business, visit the website or call the LEP on 01480 277180.