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“Dairy cows are exposed to a variety of cattle diseases, including Johne’s disease, which costs the industry up to $ 90 million per year in lost milk production and low calving rates,”? Pictor’s COO Howard Moore said.

A new test for an incurable bovine disease will be developed after Auckland Biotech’s Pictor company received more than $ 400,000 from a government investment fund.

Johne’s disease is caused by a bacterial infection of the intestine in cattle and other ruminants. It causes gradual thickening and inflammation of the intestinal wall and eventually impedes absorption of nutrients, and can be fatal.

It was first discovered in New Zealand over a century ago. Most herds are likely harboring an infection, Dairy NZ said.

Pictor’s affordable multiplex test could save the dairy industry between $ 40 million and $ 90 million per year in lost milk production and poor calving rates, said Howard Moore, chief operating officer.

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The disease was difficult to diagnose, but once it happened the animals were normally slaughtered to prevent further infection in a herd, he said.

The company’s multiplex testing platform had the potential to be a more sensitive test and therefore reduce the number of false negatives.

“We will collect more infected cows during testing. “

Robyn Edie / Stuff

The Webber Family Pack for the Traditional Dairy Farm changes on June 1.

The Ministry of Primary Industries’ Sustainable Foods and Fibers Future Fund is providing the $ 404,000 of development money.

Early last year, Pictor received a $ 500,000 grant from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund of $ 25 million to advance its PictArray Covid-19 test.

Although there is a range of individual tests for Johne’s disease on the market, affordability was a barrier to broader testing by farmers, Moor said.

Pictor scientist Jimena Tejerina next to a MicroArray printer used both for development and commercial manufacturing for testing on cattle.


Pictor scientist Jimena Tejerina next to a MicroArray printer used both for development and commercial manufacturing for testing on cattle.

“The new multiplex diagnostic technology that we are developing will reduce costs and consolidate testing, enabling more proactive and sustainable disease management on the farm. “

The inclusion of a pregnancy test would allow breeders to predict calving patterns more accurately and make timely decisions on which cows to keep for next season, he said.

MPI’s investment program director Steve Penno said regular and early testing for Johne’s disease and pregnancy, along with good management, could increase productivity and calving rates.

“MPI is supporting this project because of its potential to increase productivity and environmental outcomes alongside healthier animals. “

The research project is led by Howard Moore, COO at Pictor, and Rao Dukkipati, Senior Lecturer at Massey University, and builds on long-term research conducted by Associate Professor Alan Murray.

Pictor has filed a provisional patent for the diagnostic test, which should have been fully developed within a year.

Last year, Pictor also entered into a research agreement with MPI, DairyNZ and Beef and Lamb to develop a more sensitive diagnosis for Mycoplasma Bovis. The program has received up to $ 30 million for research projects on M. bovis.

Pictor was founded in 2005. In August of last year, Pictor established Pictor Inc. in the United States and appointed Thomas Schlumpberger as new Managing Director, based in San Francisco.

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