The Actiphage test kit from PBD Biotech.

Actiphage, a rapid, accurate test for tuberculosis that detects the presence of the live mycobacteria in a sample of blood or milk, developed by Suffolk, UK-based PBD Biotech, has been awarded the the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) 2021 Innovation Award 2021.

Tuberculosis (TB), Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) and Johne’s Disease continue to be devastating diseases across the globe, and there are currently few reliable diagnostic tests available. Actiphage is a simple test that can detect the diseases in livestock, humans and companion pets, as well as wildlife and exotic animals.

PBD Biotech CEO Mark Hammond.

“Vets know first-hand the devastation caused by bTB, so this award by the BVA provides a powerful endorsement of Actiphage’s innovation,” PBD Biotech CEO Mark Hammond said. “By directly detecting mycobacteria at an early stage, Actiphage provides vets with a new tool for managing and eradicating bTB and Johne’s Disease.”

The support of vets is invaluable to PBD Biotech as the company is planning more on-farm trials of Actiphage in the near future.

Actiphage was named as a promising test in the review of UK bovine TB strategy conducted by Professor Sir Charles Godfray. It has also been approved by the APHA for exceptional private use in areas of chronic bTB infection.

“Although 2020 was a challenging year for almost everyone, we’ve been working closely with vets and farmers to further develop the test, and in parallel have been fund-raising,” Mr Hammond added. “Our goal is to provide the validation data necessary for Actiphage to achieve international certification by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).”

Actiphage process flow chart.

As Actiphage can distinguish between live and dead mycobacteria and also differentiate between wild strains and vaccine strains, it would be very effective to develop as a DIVA test – for Distinguishing Infected from Vaccinated Animals – a pre-requirement before a successful vaccination strategy can be introduced.

Actiphage has been shown to detect TB in livestock, domestic animals, wildlife and exotic species, so is of interest across the veterinary profession.

It also provides an accurate and non-invasive blood test for human TB, and work is progressing to develop a clinically proven test in human TB.