Taking testing to a new level on P.E.I.

Published on February 13, 2016

Dr. Dante Mateo, left, research scientist with the Atlantic Veterinary College, explains his work Friday to Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and MP for Cardigan. Moments earlier MacAulay had announced just over $700,000 in funding for research into new ways of diagnosing viral diseases in pork and beef herds. Mateo is part of the research team developing the new technology.

©THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Atlantic Veterinary College researching better ways to check for diseases

A new way of efficiently testing for multiple viruses using one sample from a cow or pig is under development at the Atlantic Veterinary College.

The research received just over $700,000 in funding Friday from Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and MP for Cardigan.

He made the announcement at the college, followed by a tour of the laboratory where the research is being done.

"With this generous support from the government of Canada, diagnostic services at AVC will develop a new testing method that will screen and test for more pathogens in a more efficient and cost-effective manner," said Dr. Greg Keefe, dean of the Atlantic Veterinary College, in a statement celebrating the funding announcement. "This project will strengthen our ability to monitor for and prevent the spread of diseases that may affect the beef, dairy and pork export industries in Atlantic Canada."

Take, for example, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus which can devastate pork farms. Samples are continually coming to AVC to check for the disease, but there are other pig diseases, like transmissible gastro-enteritis, that shows similar symptoms.

"We can test for PEDv but also rule out four other similar viruses with the one sample," said Dr. Dante Mateo, research scientist at the college.

He is working on the testing technology, called a multiplex detection assay. The funding money will be spread over three years with the team committed to one new multiplex test per year.

"When you talk about world class, UPEI and the Atlantic Veterinary College are known worldwide for expertise in diagnostics," said Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, president of the university.

"We thank the government of Canada for this funding and for recognizing the role that innovative diagnostic advances within veterinary medicine play in strengthening the overall well-being of our nation."

This is certainly a growing centre for research excellence, agreed MacAulay.

"Canada's reputation for safe, high-quality meat and dairy products is one that is backed by science and helps to keep our sector competitive and profitable."