One of the benefits of working within a cutting-edge tech hub like AberInnovation is your neighbours. The proximity of our new lab with innovators, Techion, enabled an introduction that has brought the investigation of anthelmintic resistance on farms to a new level.
Anthelmintic resistance is a big issue
Anthelmintics are a group of antiparasitic drugs. They expel parasitic worms and other internal parasites from the body, either by stunning or killing them, but without causing significant damage to the host. However, anthelmintic resistance is a serious and increasing threat to the health and welfare of livestock. Left unchecked it has the capacity to lead to existing anthelmintics becoming ineffective, with a potentially catastrophic impact on animal welfare and production.
Technology for anthelmintic resistance
Techion integrates hardware, software and data to deliver solutions for complex disease problems. The company has developed a small portable digital microscope, Micro-I, and supporting platform, RĀTĀ, which can be deployed anywhere in the world with very little training to revolutionise parasite management in production animals. This technology could already determine if treatments failed in farm animals from the enumeration of parasitic eggs before and after treatments, however the parasite species involved remained unknown.
To enhance Techion’s existing proprietary method of easily extracting eggs from their sample preparation for further molecular analysis, the team approached Agxio to help determine what parasitic species may still be present after treatment. Using our cutting-edge Oxford Nanopore sequencing capabilities on the GridION platform, we are able to perform speciation analysis on both before and after treatment samples to understand and analyse the levels of anthelmintic resistance we are seeing on our farms today.
With this advanced analysis, it is possible to gain greater insights into the level of anthelmintic resistance across different farms and also within farms, and to pinpoint species which are displaying higher levels of resistance. This allows the performance of early interventions to reduce the speed at which resistance is growing, and contributions to the drug discovery pipeline.
The future of prevention
The British Veterinary Association outlines how in the UK, anthelmintic resistance is reported mainly in gastrointestinal nematodes and, increasingly, in liver fluke. At present, resistance significantly impacts the efficacy of the three older classes of anthelmintics but is a threat against the efficacy of all anthelmintic groups. The combination of Techion and Agxio’s technologies and capabilities means another leap forward in the battle to prevent anthelmintic resistance.