In-field poultry pathogen testing is coming

In-field poultry pathogen testing is coming
Jan 09, 2024

Partnering with poultry industry leaders, Alveo is creating a revolutionary molecular test that can accurately diagnose and track avian flu outbreaks across all relevant strains in real-time.

By Andrew Joseph,; Photo by Katie Bernotsky on Unsplash

Alveo Technologies, Inc., an Alameda, California-based global leader in molecular sensing and diagnostics with its proprietary be.well technology platform, has announced it is working with experts and leaders in the poultry industry to launch a rapid, accurate, in-the-field multiplex panel to test for all relevant strains of avian influenza, initially focusing on Group A, H5, H7, and H9.

To help co-develop and distribute the tests, Alveo has partnered with industry leaders x-OvO, Royal GD, and Pharmsure International Ltd.

Alveo said that it expects to release its first product in the poultry diagnostic space in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) within the first half of 2024.

The avian flu test will be Alveo’s first product to launch into the agricultural sector since Alveo announced its open platform and partnering strategy last year. In addition to the avian flu, Alveo is partnering to develop test panels for many other pathogens impacting the agriculture industry.

“We’ve been working closely with Alveo in a deep collaboration to develop these highly valuable assays for Avian Influenza,” said Wim Kieftenbeld, Director of Business Development at Royal GD. “It’s a significant challenge, where two parties bring in their expertise. Alveo has a lot of knowledge in the field of LAMP technology and human diagnostics, and Royal GD brings in its expertise in the field of veterinary diseases and diagnostics. Together, we’ve been able to achieve incredible results with an assay that accurately and rapidly delivers highly specific results at the point of need.”

The threat highly pathogenic avian flu poses to the poultry industry
In the most recent season, more than 68 million birds have been affected, surpassing the record set in the 2015 season, which caused up to $4 billion in economic damage. Recent outbreaks in California and Alabama required the culling of nearly 700,000 birds.

“According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, highly pathogenic avian flu has affected about 11 million domestic birds during the current outbreak, and, in the US, 11.4 million were affected in December alone,” said Shaun Holt, Chief Executive Officer of Alveo Technologies. “Avian flu presents a serious threat to the poultry industry, and the first step to controlling its spread is detection. Alveo’s ruggedized testing platform gives farmers and authorities the ability to perform highly accurate tests in the field to get rapid results so they can take immediate action.”

The need for a new testing paradigm
Alveo said that it is leading the development of diagnostics at the intersection of animal and human health to proactively manage disease epidemics and prevent future potential pandemics.

The earlier both farmers and governments can detect infection, the faster action can be taken to mitigate damage.

Data collection for avian influenza is haphazard and tied to a limited number of central labs, which makes tracking the spread difficult, highlighting the need for innovative, rapid, on-site testing.

Currently, avian influenza testing typically takes one of two forms: lab-based PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or lateral flow tests (LFTs), commonly known as antigen tests.

PCR tests are accurate but require sending samples to central or nationally approved laboratories for testing. Results can take days or even weeks to process depending on lab capacity, which delays decision-making at the farm level, increases the risk of infection from one flock to another, and extends human exposure time.

Lateral flow tests do produce rapid results, but they are also not nearly as accurate as PCR.

“The poultry industry is facing a severe and growing threat from highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said Dr. Richard Currie, President, x-OvO. “The industry needs a rapid, precise, on-the-ground test so farmers and authorities can take immediate action. Together with Alveo and Royal GD, we’ve done what many thought impossible with the forthcoming Flockscreen LAMP (leveraging loop-mediated isothermal amplification) AI assays franchise. Important to note is that results are time and geotagged, so a real-time heatmap of an outbreak can be seen at a national level. This has never been possible and will be a powerful tool to fight the spread of this pathogen and help ensure food security for millions of people around the globe.”

The Alveo solution
The Alveo platform, including its mobile app Alveo Sense, is a rapid, handheld, reusable, and rugged multiplexed molecular diagnostic platform.

It pairs advanced molecular assays with cloud-enabled data analytics to provide highly accurate and sensitive real-time detection, analysis, and diagnosis of diseases, pathogens, and contaminants.

The platform employs Alveo’s globally patented direct-electrical sensing approach to pathogen identification, LAMP.

This portable molecular lab can deliver rapid test results at the point of need or in the field. Alveo’s platform also provides geo-targeted results that can be uploaded to the cloud to give a real-time view of national outbreaks and inform the response.

"There's a desperate need in the market for this kind of solution, which is accurate, precise, and can be utilized at the point of need. When Alveo approached us about development and distribution, we were excited to be partners in delivering this innovative solution to farmers,” said Howard Wilder, the Managing Director at Pharmsure International.

Added Alveo’s Holt: “Highly pathogenic avian flu is a major threat to the poultry industry. Both WOAH (World Organisation for Animal Health) and WHO (World Health Organization) recognize that accurate and rapid surveillance of disease is an integral part of One Health strategies. Developing innovative tools like Alveo’s ruggedized testing platform can help fill the testing gap, empowering farmers and governments with the ability to take swift action to stop disease spread, contain the damage, and reduce economic loss. This is key to the future of One Health strategies.”

Alveo is the first company to make molecular detection and diagnostics universally accessible—on the farm, in the field, in the clinic, or in the manufacturing plant—helping prevent or significantly limit the destructive impact of viruses, fungi, bacteria, and other pathogens by detecting them earlier at the point of need.

The company’s rugged and portable, multiplex-capable diagnostic platform employs a patented method of direct electrical sensing of nucleic acid amplification to provide affordable, rapid, and accurate results, helping manage global health, food security, and supply chain resiliency.

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