Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's Australian Animal Health Laboratory have developed a new test for foot-and-mouth disease. It involves no infectious viral material and can differentiate between infected and vaccinated animals. This 'DIVA' test could transform how foot-and-mouth disease is controlled, because it's inexpensive and does not require infectious virus to produce the reagents, according to a report by ScienceAlert.
"It's the first test in the world to be built entirely from non-living materials produced in the laboratory," says Janine Muller, who developed the test with CSIRO colleagues while completing her PhD. She is now a research scientist with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries.
"We have been able to build and manufacture the critical components of the test from the ground up. They are biochemical compounds that are not alive, and can't become infectious," she notes. "We unraveled the structure of an antibody to an important protein that the virus injects into cells. We then generated its genetic template and used it to engineer the antibodies at the heart of the test."
The new test, which can pinpoint vaccinated animals, has application worldwide where the cost of producing reagents is a critical factor. The test itself is not used for primary diagnosis but in the control and recovery phase where material being tested is highly unlikely to be of an infectious nature and testing can be carried out at a lower level of biocontainment.
The test itself is a faster and more sensitive way of detecting the disease in livestock.