In response to the Swine Health Information Center’s (SHIC) request for research proposals that focus on disease pathogen detection, researchers submitted 29 proposals by the June 7 deadline for the center’s review and approval. The research effort that comes from these proposals is designed to help to minimize the impact of future disease threats to the United States.
Specifically, the proposals came from seven U.S. university and Canadian institutions and one private biotechnology firm. The pathogens submitted for investigation come from SHIC’s Swine Disease Matrix and are a cross-section of it. The proposals focus on disease antigen detection using current lab technology, such as PCR, that is commonly available at most major U.S. veterinary diagnostic laboratories.
SHIC will review the preliminary proposals and assess the coverage of the pathogens on the matrix and the laboratories’ plans to address biocontainment and biosecurity. When a laboratory is selected to address a pathogen or a set of pathogens, it will be asked to develop a detailed proposal for each pathogen. The SHIC Preparedness and Response Working Group will oversee the project and make the proposal selections.
Priorities Steer Research
Because current domestic laboratory capability does not address some of the prioritized pathogens listed on SHIC’s Swine Disease Matrix, SHIC has dedicated $1 million toward pathogen detection research of those on the list. The intent is to bring detection capabilities up to where it will result in quicker identification that will lead to better response. This is critical if we will be able to effectively detect newly emerged or newly introduced disease or viruses.
Coordinated Diagnostic Test Reporting Will Support Effective Response
After the research findings start coming in, SHIC should be in a better position to help rapid response by enabling better diagnostic capabilities across the country. But rapidly responding to emerging diseases also requires coordination. That’s why SHIC is funding data standardization for how test results are reported in diagnostic labs. As we have learned, diagnostic labs developed programs and systems for recording the results of their swine testing independent of each other. This hinders coordination and communication between them. SHIC’s goal is to help standardize the way data is reported. That will lead to the data being more easily compiled and analyzed to look for emerging diseases.