Member Spotlight – Biotangents

Timely diagnosis to improve livestock welfare and profitability

 

Biotangents are cleverly answering the need for reliable and affordable tools to monitor animal health and rapidly diagnose diseases to advance the life quality and productivity of livestock.

 

The veterinary diagnostics company develops pen-side diagnostic devices to detect infectious diseases in livestock quickly and accurately on the farm. Prompt results will allow vets and farmers to quickly implement the management decisions necessary to limit disease spread.

 

Cutting edge technology

Biotangents have developed a molecular diagnostics competitor to the common PCR laboratory technique. Their new class of diagnostic device is powered by patent-pending Moduleic Sensing™, a highly adaptable, specific and sensitive proprietary technology that detects identifying nucleic acid signatures from pathogenic organisms. The isothermal amplification technology reports the presence of target DNA and RNA sequences indicative of the disease of concern, yielding a range of accurate on-site diagnostic tests for multiple infectious diseases.

 

Their diagnostic approach is underpinned by a range of innovative DNA engineering and detection technologies, including machine-learning bioinformatics, which are also available as part of bespoke DNA design, manipulation and assembly services.

 

Founders Andy Hall-Ponselè (Director of Operations) and Lina Gasiūnaitė (Director of Science) with CEO, Alan Hale, share the common goal of making a significant contribution to reducing the disease burden in livestock farming.

 

Real-world application

Biotangents are currently working with Sidai Africa, a major African veterinary group, to develop a pen-side prototype for detecting Contagious Bovine and Caprine Pleuropneumonias (CBPP and CCPP) – diseases particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa causing severe morbidity and mortality in cattle and goats.

 

Having introduced the two partners, CIEL helped the UK-Kenyan consortium prepare a successful bid to secure   £397,000 from the Department for International Development (DFID) as part of the Agri-Tech Catalyst fund. This early win separately supported Biotangents to leverage subsequent equity-based finance from private investors.

 

CIEL is providing project management and helping to disseminate findings to wider industry partners as the team embarks on developing Biotangents’ technology platform, with early results due in Q1 2019.

 

Dr Casey Woodward, Head of Business Development at CIEL, is working with Biotangents as part of the CBPP/CCPP diagnostics project. He said: “We know from speaking with industry that diagnostics plays a crucial role in protecting animal health and farm productivity, regardless of livestock species. The technology being developed by Biotangents represents a significant leap by offering a pen-side, low cost result and will help farmers and vets decide on the best course of treatment.”

 

Further insight into the business is provided by Dr Andy Hall-Ponselè, Director of Operations at Biotangents: “Biotangents aim to be the go-to company for portable infectious disease diagnostics in the livestock sector. The unique design of our Moduleic Sensing™ technology makes it rapidly configurable to different diagnostic targets, and these tests for CBPP and CCPP are just the first in what will rapidly become a broad spectrum of tests that will produce actionable data to reduce the cost burden of infectious diseases in livestock farming.”

 

Further opportunities with CIEL

Since joining CIEL in 2017, Biotangents has already begun to develop new relationships with veterinary service providers and has been involved in a number of funding applications to apply their diagnostic offering to UK-focussed challenges. Through CIEL and its network of industrial partners, Biotangents has been able to identify commercial market opportunities and sources of funding to help de-risk new R&D projects.

 

Andy Hall-Ponselè concluded: “CIEL’s support in developing diagnostic tests for the Kenyan market has been invaluable to us, and we look forward to continuing to work with Casey and rest of the team following the successful culmination of this project.”