Diagnostic assay for Bovine Tuberculosis.
Bovine tuberculosis is one of the biggest challenges facing the global cattle industry, in terms of morbidity and costs of monitoring and intervention. The most prevalent diagnostic tool, the delayed hypersensitivity test, is slow, has poor sensitivity and is labour intensive. Alternative tests are being developed, with a popular strategy involving selective amplification of marker DNA sequences as part of diagnostic PCR. However, these strategies require constant power, temperature controlled laboratories, intricate sample preparation, and regular machine maintenance and calibration. These factors mean that these devices are unsuitable for field use. Current biomarker-based diagnostic assays typically rely on ELISA methods, which in turn rely on a suitable antibody being raised, and renders the test expensive. Nucleic acid aptamers, short (20-80mer) oligomers have been proposed as an alternative to the antibody approach in diagnostics due to their similar binding affinities, but at greatly reduced synthesis costs, and batch variation. This project proposes to develop an affordable, sensitive, specific, rapid and user-friendly diagnostic assay for bovine tuberculosis based on aptameric sensing.