Project budget3 715 874 €
ERDF amount2 229 524 €
Animal diseases such as Cryptosporidiosis can also pose a threat to human health. Human outbreaks can occur from water collected in areas contaminated by bovine stools. In cattle farms, this common illness is difficult to control without good breeding practices, efficient detection tools or effective pharmaceuticals. Young infected animals spread millions of parasites a day and show stunted growth. This disease leads to a higher mortality rate, which further threaten the economic viability of a sector which already faces frequent crises. By reducing the impact of cryptosporidiosis in farms, our project aims to increase farm productivity in a number of different countries, making these businesses more efficient and successful, with a lower impact on human health. For this purpose, this project aims to provide pilot farms, detection tools and technological devices that can accelerate the discovery of new drugs at the lowest possible cost.
The main objective is to reduce the sanitary and economic impact of Cryptosporidium. The project will tackle a twofold approach:
- We target to halve the number of contaminated calves in terms of prevention and consequently in terms of economic impact. In that goal, pilot farms will be disseminated across the 2 seas area. These farms will be operational demonstrators to proof and transfer good practices and usage of a detection kit within the animal production sector. Positive results from these changes will be controlled and quantified via epidemiologic and economic studies.
- We target to accelerate the discovery of new anti-Cryptosporidium pharmaceuticals. We will propose an innovative electronic device for analysing faster potential effects of various compounds tested. We will finally conduct Market exploration on the analytical tools and technology. This transfer strategy will be focused on biotechnology and pharmaceutical corporations.
- Dissemination of 40 pilot farms across the 2 seas area used as reference site for farmers
- Create a low-cost and easy-to-use pilot in-situ parasite detection system, which can be used by farmers as well and produced by biotech companies.
- Adapt an electronic Cryptosporidium-viability monitoring micro-system, applicable as standard to pharmaceutical laboratories to rapidly characterise potentially therapeutic compounds.
- Develop market study linked to business model and strategies to transfer technologies to the end users (biotech/pharmaceutical companies)
Cross border approach
Pathogens are not bound by national borders. Trade between farms and breeding centres can be a vector for pathogens, including Cryptosporidium, to spread far and wide. In addition, in order for the results of this project to be sustainable over time, we must be able to provide different kind of farms’ model, which can be adapted in each country. As such, we need to combine the expertise of various partners (Belgian, Dutch, English and French) on current farming strategies, in each region, to propose infectious risk management procedures, which will work in the context of their individual constraints. All pilot farms will apply elaborated detection devices. Regarding research structures involved, we will also need to combine our expertise with that of other cross-border organisations (i.e. the development of a pilot system will require both the expertise on Cryptosporidium culturing from the partners in England along with the micro-electronics expertise of the partners in France).
Despite unfavourable context, due to Brexit and Covid-19 pandemia, H4DC consortium was able to proceed with its works.
A review on “risk factors” and another one on “halofuginone treatment efficacy” were published by PP7. Questionnaires on farm practices were completed (Fr, BE and NL) and stored in a databank (LP, PP4, PP5, PP6). The descriptive statistical analysis led to determine practices that could be at risk. The dataset was also used to study economic impact of Cryptosporidium and diarrhoea at the project start. Taking together, farm practices and risk factors analysis led to co-elaboration with farmers of recommendations that are currently under application.
In parallel, stool sampling gave an initial statement of Cryptosporidium prevalence. A solution with RVC was finally found to recruit and sample farms in UK. Regarding test kit development, the targeted antigens are now selected and ready for production. The screening device prototyping made a significant step forward. Two prototypes were built (10 wells and 96 wells) with a simple electrodes design. Software were developed to control automatically measurement chain and data recording. These tools are under test to include cell culture and infection procedures.
In parallel, a third prototype is under design to integrate a more complex electrodes’ shape. In order to ease the analysis of pictures captured under microscope through the device, two AI strategies get started. The WP3 progression was marked by market studies achievement. Two external consultant cabinets were recruited to study markets for test kit and drug screening device respectively. Following 17 Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) interviews, both experts were able to identify market requests, strengths and weaknesses of our tools. They also provided recommendations according to KOL feedbacks. More than 16 endusers or stakeholders were also contacted through SATT contacts or BioFIT event.
Time dedicated to management was mainly spent to deal with Brexit and Covid19 pandemia. This delt with two major works: (i) Discussion with partners to reduce the impact of crises on project progression (i.e. by the organisation of an additional mid-term project steering committee) and (ii) redaction of a new application form including major modifications (such as a 7 months extension). Finally, this year was hyperactive and implied riche interactions between partners across border. No specific outputs were reached to date.