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Diagnostic testing kits for vets, farmers and pet owners to improve animal health

New diagnostic testing kits developed by the University of Glasgow - which could improve the lives of thousands of pets and animals through early detection of disease - are to be made widely available to vets, farmers and pet owners for the first time.

Spin-out company ReactivLab is to commercialise the new animal health diagnostic technology developed in the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. ReactivLab will provide services and kits that can detect sub-clinical symptoms of inflammation, infection and disease in both companion and farm animals. These tests can allow pet owners or farmers to know if their animal is unwell before any visible symptoms appear enabling early intervention with the best treatment.

IP Group plc, the intellectual property commercialisation company, has invested £450,000 in ReactivLab Ltd for a 33.2% stake.

ReactivLab’s new diagnostic approach exploits blood proteins known as acute phase proteins (APPs). Acute phase proteins (APP) are a group of blood proteins that change in concentration in animals subjected to challenges such as infection, inflammation, surgical trauma or stress. Quantification of their concentration can provide diagnostic and prognostic information. The university have identified specific APPs (and combinations) that act as biomarkers to detect the presence of disease or poor health before visible symptoms appear.

Professor David Eckersall, scientific founder of ReactivLab, is a world-leading researcher in the area of acute phase proteins in animals co-ordinating the European Concerted Action Group on Acute Proteins in Animals. He has specialised in this field for over 20 years and has presented the findings of his work at international scientific meetings throughout the world. He is a Professor of Veterinary Biochemistry at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow and has been responsible for many of the major advances in monitoring the APP response in domestic animals such as dogs, cats, cattle and pigs. He has also invented novel methods for analysis and discovered new applications for the diagnostic use of APP showing the benefit of measuring the proteins in a variety of conditions including bovine mastitis and pneumonia, feline infectious peritonitis and canine leukaemia.

ReactivLab will exploit this research and provide services in diagnostic testing for acute phase proteins. For example, blood samples from dogs and cats can be analysed to assist in the very early diagnosis of diseases such as arthritis, cancer and various infectious diseases. Diagnostic kits are also planned to make the approach available world-wide.

APP testing will not only give the opportunity for vets to intervene with treatments before a condition has advanced significantly they will also provide animal owners with a means to monitor animal health on a regular basis.

ReactivLab is the third spin-out from IP Group’s partnership with the University of Glasgow which was announced in October 2006. The first two companies from the collaboration are XanIC Limited, which is commercialising a new semiconductor process technology, and Wireless bioDevices Limited, which was established to commercialise wireless sensor technology for use in medical diagnostics.

The diagnostic test technology has already received Synergy Fund investment via a £200,000 loan from the Fund to the University for pre-incorporation development. Synergy Fund is a Glasgow/Strathclyde university Fund managed by Scottish Equity Partners (SEP). ReactivLab has also received a Scottish Executive SMART Award.

Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive of IP Group, said: “We are delighted with the progress being made at Glasgow. ReactivLab is the first spin-out we have completed in the exciting and growth area of animal health but is the third spin-out from Glasgow within the first year that IP Group partnered with the University.”

Prof Steve Beaumont, VP Research & Enterprise, commented: “The University is very pleased that research carried out on our internationally renowned Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has led to a spinout that will assist in the diagnosis of diseases in animals. This substantial investment from IP Group in addition to earlier support from the Synergy Fund recognises the confidence we have in the future success of the business. As we expected our collaboration with IP Group has accelerated our spin-out process and we are delighted to announce the formation of a third company so soon after our partnership was launched.”

Prof David Eckersall, Director, ReactivLabs, said: “Establishing ReactivLab will allow the acute phase protein tests to become widely available so that instead of being restricted to our research programmes their full benefit in being able to detect even sub clinical disease in dogs and cats will be available to the pet owning community at large.”

Martin Shannon | alfa
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