Cryptosporidiosis is the primary cause of diarrhea in 1-3 week old dairy and beef calves, with conservative estimates placing the economic impact of the disease at $175 million per year in the U.S. in cumulative losses from death, treatment expenses and decreased production. Unlike the other major causes of neonatal calf diarrhea, no effective drugs or vaccines are presently available to combat the costly parasitic infection.
Current means of detecting and diagnosing Crypto present challenges including cost, performance, clinical significance and assessment of co-infection with other pathogens.
In addition, the use of a wide variety of diagnostic methods and the inconsistent application of techniques makes it difficult to compare results from clinical and veterinary studies. Microscopy, for example, requires simple instrumentation and inexpensive consumables, but the process is laborious and lacks sensitivity and specificity. Molecular methods of detection such as polymerase chain reactions can be used identify the parasite at the species level, but testing for Crypto is not routine in most laboratories.
The reagents developed in Riggs' laboratory offer the opportunity for the creation of a rapid, highly sensitive diagnostic test for Crypto.
"We are now making a characterized panel of mouse monoclonal antibodies available to the community for a variety of applications including rapid, simpler diagnostic assay development, antigen characterization and immunotherapeutic development," Riggs said.
"These antibodies are a useful resource for a broad range of research and development purposes," he continued. "After years of development and characterization, we decided to make them available to others for a variety of applications which are expected to advance the field. TLA has been the perfect liaison to partner with Kerafast and allow this to happen."
McCauley says the university-industry arrangement is doing much more than getting this specific technology out into the marketplace; it represents a relationship and a pathway that will continue to serve both organizations going forward.
"We are exploring ways we can work with Kerafast long term to add additional value to particular reagents and create new research avenues for antibodies through technologies available to create customized antibody sequences."
Kerafast's Director of Business Development Matt Takvorian is likewise optimistic about the opportunity for impact.
"At Kerafast, we are committed to accelerating scientific progress by facilitating access to the unique and useful research reagents developed by academic laboratories," Takvorian said. "We are excited to partner with the Riggs lab to make these antibodies more easily available to scientists worldwide to advance research toward better Crypto diagnosis and treatment. We look forward to continuing to expand our relationship with the University of Arizona to bring more of its lab-made reagents to the wider scientific community."