Europharma team up with Scottish Government to set industry standards

27. October 2017

Europharma has teamed up with the Scottish Government (Marine Scotland Science) to carry out a test designed to set the standard for a portable quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) platform.

Europharma, a leading developer of complete fish health and welfare programmes, led a collaborative project to validate a field quantitative PCR (qPCR) test for the detection of salmonid alphavirus (SAV) in partnership with Marine Scotland Science and Primer Design.

Europharma presented the idea to the other organisations in a bid to set a benchmark in point of care testing, using the genesig easy q16 portable qPCR device. They aimed to showcase the benefits in an official capacity after favourable results were achieved by in-house fish vets and technicians.

The technology works by extracting and quantifying pathogen DNA or RNA in fish tissue samples, to take the guesswork out of diagnostics for pathogens affecting  salmon fish farms. The q16 testing encompasses a comprehensive list of pathogens occurring in fish farms, and the platform is now in use across Scotland.

For this particular test, the q16 kit was used to detect salmonid alphavirus by extracting RNA from fish tissue. The kit was assessed against  already validated standard lab-based kits used in the Marine Scotland Science facilities, to ensure fair testing and accurate results.  Results showed a less than tenfold difference between the two extraction methods, indicating that the genesig easy q16 machine is both sensitive and accurate when producing results.

One of the major benefits of using this platform was the savings on time. Due to the portability of the machine, very little time is lost to sample transport and laboratory logistics, cutting the usual 48-hour wait to just four hours.

Nikos Steiropoulos, CEO of the Clydebank-based Europharma UK, said:

“We presented our idea to test pathogens using the portable qPCR machine as we know first-hand how well it works. It’s extremely accurate, saves a huge amount of man-hours and travel time, so is one of the most efficient testing methods out there.

“The results reflected our own thinking in that the machine is equally accurate compared to non-portable machines but its results can be produced on site and in just four hours from sampling to report.

“This validation process along with other observed positive results, we hope to further justify for people across fish farms the use of this portable diagnostic solution; this way   they will be able to see the benefits in fish health resources and response times for themselves.”

Marine Scotland Science collaborated in this project by performing a bench-top comparison and validation exercise.

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