Point-of -care diagnostics (POC) is the holy grail of diagnostic testing, enabling the primary end-user to test for pathogens at the “coal face”, removing the time delay for obtaining the definitive results and enabling immediate response to detection of pathogens, promoting the best possible outcome in terms of disease control, biosecurity and health. The DNAiTECH vision is for low cost POC diagnostics, using powerful molecular techniques, interfaced with smartphones and a highly user-friendly technology, not requiring laboratory equipment and infrastructure and implemented by a lay person, i.e. not dependent on the user being a scientist or biotechnologist.
The health of honeybee’s is crucial not only to the honey industry but also to much of our agriculture industry, here in Aotearoa New Zealand and worldwide. Of all crops for food grown worldwide, 70% are pollinated by honeybees. In recent years there has been a decline in honeybees, the causes of which are multifactorial and include the widespread use of insecticides, loss of natural habitat with shifts towards monoculture, and the spreading of bee pathogens, which include fungi, parasites, viruses and bacteria. In Aotearoa New Zealand we have seen the recent arrival of varroa mite and American foulbrood, just two of several serious pathogens that threaten the honey industry. Unlike other animal related industries, beekeepers are on their own when faced on location with a potential bee pathogen, there are no bee-vets one can call on for a professional opinion if one’s hive appears to have a disease problem. While there are disease diagnostic service laboratories, the beekeeper’s “office” is often in remote locations, so when facing a potential pathogen outbreak, the logistics of taking the suspected sample back to town, sending it off to testing laboratories, and a day or so later if the test results confirm the presence of the disease, returning to primary site to deal with the outbreak; such a scenario is quite impractical.
American foulbrood is a serious disease of bees, and it is mandatory in Aotearoa New Zealand for beekeepers to burn their hives if it is detected. Swift action is necessary to prevent spread of the disease from hive to hive. This is where DNAiTECH is aiming to help the apiculture industry, by the development of a POC test for detection of AFB at the hive. We are pleased to acknowledge Agmardt for funding this first phase of this exciting development.
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