WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A Purdue University researcher has landed a $1 million grant to boost his work on a rapid test for detecting African swine fever.
The funding for Mohit Verma, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, was included in the U.S. Farm Bill to help enhance the nation’s ability to develop rapid tests for high-consequence diseases, the Journal & Courier reported.
Verma is collaborating with two other Purdue researchers to develop a portable paper-strip test for African swine fever, which he calls “a devastating disease.”
Verma said that when an outbreak of African swine fever hit farms in China a few years ago “it wiped out 50% of the country’s pig population."
Developing a rapid test that can be done in the field for the virus that causes the fever is important because “hours, even minutes, matter in containing it,” he said.
Within the cartridge of the rapid test, a saliva or blood sample will be mixed with primers and reagents, developed by Verma and his team, and gently heated. A paper strip will then change color if African swine fever DNA is present, Verma said.
“We want the test to be easy for farmers and veterinarians, and for the pigs,” he said in Purdue news release. “Our hope is to create something affordable and accessible that could be broadly used in the U.S. and throughout the world.”