Bovine TB research and development

Ground-breaking scientific research aimed at detecting TB in cattle will take place after five projects were awarded a combined investment of £500,000 in August 2020. The programme run by Defra on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales, will fund innovative research projects using cutting-edge technologies aimed at detecting TB infection in cattle herds faster. Five schemes, led by various leading research institutes, have been selected to receive up to £100,000 each for up to 12 months for proof of concept research. These research proposals will use a range of new concepts and technologies which aim to detect TB in cattle, including:

  • machine learning for improved interpretation of the tuberculin skin test
  • rapid and increased sensitivity test to determine TB status
  • mass spectrometry profiling of non-invasive cattle samples (mainly saliva or nasal fluids), to accurately detect TB at early infection stage
  • mid-infrared spectroscopy of milk samples as a rapid and accurate non-invasive tool for monitoring the TB status in a cattle herd
  • identifying novel diagnostic antigens to underpin a future test for Detecting Infected amongst Vaccinated Animals (DIVA)

Find out more about completed and ongoing bovine TB research and development projects in the pages below.


Blood Sampling - Bovine TB

Help for businesses developing diagnostic tests for TB in cattle

The Animal & Plant Health Agency is providing free access to samples for commercial development and enhancement of diagnostic tests for bovine TB.

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Cows in a farmyard - TB Hub

Presentation of bovine TB risk information at the point of purchase

A summary of Defra-funded research looking at whether the way in which bovine TB risk information is presented influences the purchasing habits of cattle farmers.

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Badger at dusk - Bovine TB

Badger found dead survey in the Edge Area of England 2016-17

A joint study by the Universities of Surrey and Nottingham culturing M. bovis from road-killed badgers.

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Test tubes - TB Hub

Development of the Actiphage test for bovine TB

A semi-experimental test in development that uses a bacteriophage - a virus that infects bacteria.

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Badger drinking water - Bovine TB

Survey for TB in found dead badgers in the Southern Edge Area

Find out how you can help with a research project to detect the presence and location of TB infection in badgers in the Southern Edge Area counties in England.

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Young cows in a field - Bovine TB

Cattle purchasing decisions report

Key findings of Defra-funded research on the factors that influence farmer's decision making and use of information when purchasing cattle.

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Farm gate prior to re-enforcement

Cost of a TB breakdown report

A summary of Defra-funded research estimating the financial cost of a TB breakdown to cattle farms across England and Wales.

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Dark brown poo - Bovine TB

Detection of M. bovis in badger faeces​

Research of various methods to detect the TB bacterium in badger faeces.

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