Published: 18 Apr 2019 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 10:35:37

A bovine tuberculosis (TB) test co-created by Royal Veterinary College (RVC) academic Dr Ben Swift has won the Royal Dairy Innovation Award.

This test, which enables the rapid identification of cattle infected with Mycobateria was first developed  by Dr Swift as part of his PhD studies. Since joining the RVC has continued to evolve the technology working alongside colleagues  at the University of Nottingham.

Dr Swift and co-project lead Dr Cath Rees, were presented with the award by HRH the Princess Royal at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Dr Berwyn Clarke, former CEO of PBD Biotech; Dr Cath Rees, Associate Professor of Microbiology (University of Nottingham); HRH The Princess Royal; Ben Swift, Research Fellow (RVC)

The Royal Dairy Innovation Award recognises research and development in the field of dairy farming and is awarded for the most practical, relevant product or service which is, or likely to be the most significant innovation for the future.

The winning test is able to detect Mycobacteria in the blood and milk of cattle, which has never been done before, and do so within just six hours using a bacteriophage-based technique. As a result, cattle affected by Mycobacterium bovis, a type of Mycobacteria that causes bovine TB, can be diagnosed for the disease more quickly, allowing for more effective disease management in herds.

Additionally, the test has been used to effectively detect Johne’s Disease – another endemic illness that affects dairy cattle – in new born calves for the first time. By being able to catch the disease at an early stage, this test can help further with controlling infections in dairy herds.

The test is now licenced to spin-out company, PBD Biotech Ltd and marketed as Actiphage™. It can also be used as a highly sensitive quality assurance test in milk and dairy products.

Dr Swift, who is a Research Fellow in antimicrobial resistance, said: “It is really exciting to be recognised with this award. Translating technology from the bench to be used in real-world scenarios is a great thing and really shows the impact of our research. Hopefully this will help manage two extremely difficult diseases in the UK and worldwide.”

The innovation award winners with the judging panel for the award

Notes to Editors

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London.
  • The RVC is ranked as the world’s number one veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings 2019.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research-led institution, the RVC maintained its position as the top veterinary institution in the Research Excellence Framework (2014), with 79% of its submission being rated as world-class or internationally excellent.
  • The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals: the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital, in central London, and the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre) and Equine Referral Hospital, both located at the Hertfordshire campus.

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