You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

Indian, UK scientists discover origami-like farming solutions

Health Medical Pharma

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Scientists from the UK and India have discovered a disposable diagnostic technology that uses paper folding, akin to origami, to process complex biochemical tests that can help farmers develop very low-cost diagnostics to improve the health of livestock.

In a paper published in the journalACS Sensors, biomedical engineers, veterinary scientists and bacteriologists from Britain and India describe how the procedure helped farmers in India identify three separate reproductive infections in cattle.

The new technique provides a new method for identifyingBrucella, Leptospira and bovine herpes virus-1 infections, which are particularly prevalent in India, along with many other countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

All three infections can affect livestocks reproductive organs, reducing fertility and resulting in loss of milk production, with a significant impact on agricultural output.

"These folded pieces of wax-printed paper, which can be made using a standard printer, may look simple, but the unique properties of folded paper give us a highly reproducible method to capture samples and prepare them for testing," said Dr Zhugen Yang, biomedical engineering research fellow at the University of Glasgow and the lead author of the paper.

"The tests we conducted on farms showed excellent results, which were as good as similar reproductive disease tests conducted in laboratory conditions. Its a very encouraging result which shows future promise for veterinary medicine," said Yang, who undertook field trips to India.

Reproductive infections are difficult for farmers to diagnose through simple observation during the early stages, meaning infection can spread quickly during breeding season.

Once infected cattle are identified, they must be destroyed, leading to disruptions in milk supply and incurring significant costs for farmers.

While there are molecular diagnostics tests currently available for these infections, they are time-consuming, expensive and require skilled technicians to administer them, meaning the tests cannot be undertaken in areas far from specialised facilities.

The new diagnostic technology, developed by researchers from the University of Glasgow, uses a commercially-available printer, which coats the paper in patterns made from water-resistant wax. When the paper is folded like in the Japanese origami techniquethe sample fluid is directed into channels in the pattern.

The folded-paper device enables the DNA of the pathogens to be detected, thus providing the ability to diagnose infections.

The technology was tested during two field trips to Izzatnagar in Uttar Pradesh, where the diseases have a particularly high prevalence.

Professor Jonathan Cooper, the University of Glasgows Wolfson Chair of Bioengineering, said: "Being able to quickly and affordably identify the most common reproductive diseases in cattle could help support agriculture in low- to middle-income countries."

"It could be of particular benefit in India, which is now the worlds largest dairy producer, contributing around 125 billion litres each year. Were very pleased with these results, and keen to move forward in making this technology available for vets and farmers in Asia, Africa and South America."

The new paper, titled Rapid Veterinary Diagnosis of Bovine Reproductive Infectious Diseases from Semen using Paper-Origami DNA Microfluidics, involved theteam from the University of Glasgow collaborating with partners in the Indian Veterinary Research Institute and the Animal andPlant Health Agency in the UK.

The research was supported by funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Indian Governments Department of Biotechnology, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the European Research Council (ERC).

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Tue, February 20 2018. 20:45 IST