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Mastigo: a platform technology for early detection of mastitis

During the mastigo project, an innovative device and platform technology will be developed for the early detection of mastitis. Mastitis is the most economically significant infectious disease of dairy cattle throughout the world

Mastitis - an inflammation of the udder, mainly due to bacterial infection - is the most economically significant infectious disease among dairy cattle throughout the world. The effects of mastitis are not limited to animal wellbeing; economic issues and public health play an important role as well. On average, 300,000 to 600,000 cows per annum in THE NETHERLANDS are infected with mastitis which results in a cost of 200 million euro. Losses for dairy farmers due to mastitis can be attributed to a reduction in milk production, the associated costs of treatment and the culling of persistent and repeatedly infected cows. The effect of mastitis can reduce dairy farm income by up to 20% per year. Early mastitis detection can lower these losses substantially. Mastitis can be detected via somatic cell count (SCC). Cow milk always contains somatic cells, usually less than 100,000 cells per ml. Current technology for the detection of mastitis is either time-consuming and expensive (high-end laboratory equipment used in test institutes and R&D centres) or highly inaccurate and impractical (testing methods like the Californian Mastitis Test require interpretation of results which makes the diagnosis unreliable). The project partners are taking a new approach to the detection of mastitis by developing technology for the early detection of mastitis at cow side. The envisioned product will consist of luminometric technology that is able to detect low amounts of light emitted when newly developed reagents react with a milk sample, by measuring the amount of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) in cells. The technology is 'packaged' like a pregnancy test. A dipstick containing the reagents is placed in a milk sample and milk is absorbed onto the dipstick. The reagents and milk sample interact resulting in a very low light emission. CCD imaging technology will detect the low light emission. The emitted light is proportional to ATP in the milk, which is proportional to SCC. Thus the light measurement is translated into somatic cell count. Finally, the SCC results will be displayed within a minute and automatically interpreted as mastitis, suspected mastitis or non-mastitis. The dairy farmer can now undertake appropriate action to treat the infected cow and avoid contamination of the bulk tank milk. The new technology can be used for detection of mastitis with cows suspected of mastitis (reactive) or for routine, preventive inspection (proactive). The project is considered a breakthrough in the combined fields of reagents, ATP technology and CCD imaging technology. In order to develop the diagnostic device for early mastitis detection, a remote, highly sensitive luminometric platform technology is required. This platform technology will be developed specifically for the early diagnostic device for mastitis first. The platform technology will be applicable for a number of other luminometric assays. In contrast, the new reagent kit developed within this project can only be used for mastitis detection. For new applications, new reagent kits need to be developed and combined with the luminometric platform technology. This means the project results can also be applied for future product development. Dutch SME (Small and Medium sized Enterprise) ISOGEN and Swedish SME BIOTHEMA are combining their specialised know-how and experience in this project to develop the platform technology for the early detection of mastitis. Two research institutes complete the project consortium: the SWEDISH NATIONAL VETERINARY INSTITUTE (SVA) and the DUTCH ANIMAL SCIENCE GROUP (ASG). Both institutes have good contacts with dairy farmers and veterinarians and scientific know-how on mastitis. The SME partners will found a new company in THE NETHERLANDS for exploitation of the new product. The objective of the new company is to generate profit via device sales (1,000 euro per instrument) and non-reusable dipstick sales (1 euro per consumable). Per device, 1,200 dipsticks per annum will be used for reactive and proactive testing. High consumables sales volumes with a high profit margin are the main profit and cash flow generator. The primary target market will consist of the 'home markets' for the partners: dairy farmers in THE NETHERLANDS and Scandinavia. The secondary market expands the geographic market area towards the UNITED KINGDOM and southern Europe. The business model shows that the partners will break even during year three of market introduction. Keywords: vet diagnostics, luminescence, reagents.
Acronym: 
MASTIGO
Project ID: 
3 882
Start date: 
01-05-2006
Project Duration: 
44months
Project costs: 
1 440 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Detection and Analysis methods
Market Area: 
Animal Husbandry

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.