Defra funds team to build microarray biochip to detect disease outbreaks

A single test for more than 600 deadly viruses is being developed by a group of Defra-funded scientists, offering the possibility of spotting a disease outbreak in hours rather than days.

The microarray, which is being led by the Central Science Laboratory near York, with £1.5m funding from Defra, will detect viruses that affect humans, animals, plants, fish and bees including avian influenza, rabies and foot and mouth.

Animal and plant researchers will be able to use the same test to identify many viruses, saving time and resources in the event of an outbreak It will also help to quickly identify when a virus has jumped from one species to another and when new strains of existing disease emerge in the future.

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