PALMERSTON NORTH, New Zealand, Feb. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- PolyBatics, Ltd. today announced an international collaboration aimed at further evaluating PolyBatics' Assign-bTB tuberculosis skin test reagent as a potential tool in the global fight against tuberculosis (TB). Five groups, including PolyBatics, New Zealand's TBFree (OSPRI) and AgResearch, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), are each testing the reagent and are joining to share their respective data, in order to best assess the reagent's potential for managing bovine TB in deer and cattle herds.
PolyBatics is developing Assign-bTB as a DIVA (Differentiate Infected from Vaccinated Animals) skin test reagent designed to distinguish animals infected with TB from those vaccinated with the BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin) vaccine. Testing with Assign-bTB is intended to eliminate false positives, allowing for the vaccination of herds to reduce the incidence of TB in cattle and deer, while maintaining the sensitivity to detect truly infected animals.
In New Zealand, use of Assign-bTB has the potential to significantly reduce the number of non-tuberculous cattle or deer that falsely react to the skin test (false positives).
"We have already tested the Assign-bTB reagent in more than 30,000 cattle and 3,000 deer, where it has shown 5 times better specificity (p<0.000) than the standard TB skin test used today and is on track to deliver equivalent or better sensitivity," said Tracy Thompson, PolyBatics chief executive officer. "These initial results have been very encouraging and now we are joining in this international effort to better evaluate the larger potential of this new diagnostic reagent."
"If the results of comparative testing with the Assign-bTB reagent currently being undertaken in New Zealand, as well as internationally, confirm its initial promise in reducing false positives whilst maintaining its ability to detect true tuberculous animals, it could become an important component of our testing programme. The benefits of this to the TB programme and individual farmers will be in the reduced number of false positive cattle and deer that will need to be retested," said Dr. Paul Livingstone, TBFree New Zealand's Manager of TB Eradication and Research.
The Assign-bTB reagent can also be used for TB diagnostic blood tests (Interferon-Gamma Release Assays) and for human TB skin tests as well as skin tests for TB in livestock.
Bovine TB is a chronic disease of animals caused by bacterium called Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which is closely related to the bacteria that cause human and avian tuberculosis. Bovine TB can affect most mammals, causing a general state of illness, coughing and eventual death. The disease is contagious and spread by contact with infected domestic and wild animals. While the incidence of bovine TB has been greatly reduced within the developed world, significant pockets of infection remain within wildlife in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent the United States and Canada, thus putting livestock within those countries at risk. Bovine TB remains a serious health risk for animals and humans alike in many less developed countries.
About PolyBatics, Inc.
PolyBatics harnesses the natural power of cells to create natural polymer particles, or biobeads, covered with proteins engineered to perform specific functions. Since the company's inception in 2009, PolyBatics has demonstrated the platform's usefulness in diagnostics and vaccines, affinity chromatography, biocatalysis and other applications.
Through all this, PolyBatics has eliminated the toxic processes involved in the creation of immobilized proteins by creating them naturally, in bacteria, without using hazardous chemicals. Located in Palmerston North, New Zealand, PolyBatics was created to commercialize biobead technology created by Professor Bernd Rehm at Massey University. For more information on PolyBatics, please visit our website at http://www.polybatics.com.
Tracy Thompson, CEO
+64 (0)6 352 0200 (New Zealand)
+1 (415) 821 2413
SOURCE PolyBatics, Inc.