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New avian influenza test could help protect poultry and public health

News
Article

Alveo partnered with poultry industry leaders to launch a test to accurately diagnose and track avian flu outbreaks

pixarno/stock.adobe.com

pixarno/stock.adobe.com

Leaders and experts in the poultry industry are working with Alveo Technologies Inc to create an accurate, rapid, in-the-field multiplex panel that can test for all relevant strains of avian influenza. According to the organizational release,1 the panel will initially focus on Group A, H5, H7, and H9.

Avian influenza is broken up into subtypes based on the protein combination found on the virus’s surface. Hemagglutinin (H) has 16 recognized types and neuraminidase (N), which has 9. This new test will target 2 of the most common highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI): H5 and H7.2

Alveo is currently partnering up with x-Ovo, Royal GD, and Pharamsure International Ltd. and expects the product to be available in the poultry diagnostic space within the first half of 2024. This avian flu test will be the first product from Alvelo to launch into the agricultural sector since its open platform and partnering strategy was publicly revealed in 2023.

Wim Kieftenbeld, director of business development at Royal GD, noted that the development of the assays for avian influenza was the result of a deep collaboration. "It's a significant challenge, where 2 parties bring in their expertise. Alveo has a lot of knowledge in the field of [loop-mediated isothermal amplification] (LAMP) technology and human diagnostics and Royal GD brings in its expertise in the field of veterinary diseases and diagnostics. Together we've been able to achieve incredible results, with an assay that accurately and rapidly delivers highly specific results at the point of need," said Kieftenbeld, in the release.1

Current testing for avian influenza typical is either a lab-based PCR or lateral flow test (LFT), also known as antigen tests. Lateral tests can produce rapid results but they are not as accurate as the PCR test option, according to Alveo. The PCR tests are accurate, but it requires sending samples to either a central or nationally approved laboratory for testing which can take days or even weeks to get results.1 This can then create delays in decision-making on the farm level, increase infection risks from one flock to another, and extend the exposure time for humans.

When it comes to awareness, the earlier farmers and governing bodies can test and detect avian influenza, the better prepared to mitigate damages they'll be. Tracking avian influenza and collecting data is dangerous and tied to a limited number of central labs and it can be hazardous.

"Highly pathogenic avian flu is a major threat to the poultry industry," said Shaun Holt, CEO of Alveo Technologies, in the release.1 "Both WOAH (World Organization for Animal Health) and WHO recognize that accurate and rapid surveillance of disease is an integral part of One Health strategies. Developing innovative tools like Alveo's ruggedized testing platform can help fill the testing gap, empowering farmers and governments with the ability to take swift action to stop disease spread, contain the damage, and reduce economic loss. This is key to the future of One Health strategies."

Poultry or pet birds with HPAI may present with a lack of coordination, purple discoloration or swelling of body parts, low energy, or appetite, decreased egg production or soft-shelled/misshaped eggs, nasal discharge, coughing, or sneezing, diarrhea, or sudden death with no prior signs. Clinical signs that present in companion animals with HPAI have not been described extensively, but they could present with conjunctivitis, dyspnea, inappetence, lethargy, fever, neurologic signs, or death.2

Alveo’s platform will include its mobile app Alveo Sense that pairs advanced molecular assay with cloud-enabled data analytics to provide accurate and sensitive real-time analysis, detection, and diagnosis of contaminants, diseases, and pathogens. The platform then invokes Alveo’s direct-electrical sensing approach to identifying pathogens and leveraging LAMP technology. Rapid results can be delivered by the portable molecular lab at the point of need or out in the field. This platform can also provide geo-targeted results that can be added to the cloud to give a real-time view of any national outbreaks and inform the response.1

"There's a desperate need in the market for this kind of solution, which is accurate, precise, and can be utilized at the point of need. When Alveo approached us about development and distribution, we were excited to be partners in delivering this innovative solution to farmers," said Howard Wilder Managing Director at Pharmsure International Ltd.

Reference

  1. Alveo Technologies Is Developing Groundbreaking Avian Influenza Molecular Test for Poultry in Partnership with x-OvO, Royal GD, and Pharmsure. News release. Alveo Technologies. January 9, 2024. Accessed January 9, 2024. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/alveo-technologies-is-developing-groundbreaking-avian-influenza-molecular-test-for-poultry-in-partnership-with-x-ovo-royal-gd-and-pharmsure-302027998.html
  2. Avian influenza. American Veterinary Medical Association. Accessed January 9, 2024. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-health/avian-influenza
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