African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and lethal disease affecting pigs, with significant implications for the swine industry and the overall economy. The causative virus exhibits exceptional resilience, presenting challenges in disease management. Furthermore, there is currently no vaccine or treatment available for ASF. Therefore, prevention and early detection become the main strategy, relying on laboratory diagnostics. Strict screening of piglets before introducing them to the farm serves as the primary measure. According to the FAO, ASF outbreaks have been reported in Africa, Europe, and Asia from September to November 2023. Although the disease has been brought under control in Thailand after a major outbreak in 2022, the Department of Livestock Development continues to enforce disease screening in all farms.

In response to the ASF outbreak in Asia in 2018, BIOTEC-NSTDA initiated the development of a diagnostic test for ASF as a preparedness measure. PigXY-AMP was developed as a one-step colorimetric LAMP kit for ASF detection. It comes with a rapid DNA extraction reagent for extracting DNA from pig blood samples.

While real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) stands as the gold standard for ASF detection due to its high sensitivity, its widespread use is limited by its associated high cost, ranging from THB 1000-1500/sample.

Ms. Wansika Kiatpathomchai, Head of the Bioengineering and Sensing Technology Research Team at BIOTEC, explained, “PigXY-AMP was designed to offer a low-cost disease detection. The kit is user-friendly, demonstrating comparable sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy to the PCR assay.”

Mr. Rapheephat Suvannakad, a member of the research team, highlighted lower costs and a shorter assay time as the key advantages of PigXY-AMP over the real-time PCR test. The test takes only 70 minutes to obtain the result and does not require expensive scientific equipment and an expert to perform the test and interpret the result, making it suitable for field applications.

This technology was transferred to M G Pharma, a Thai animal health company, earlier this year. The company is in the process of registering it as a medical device with the Thai Food and Drug Administration. PigXY-AMP also received the 2023 NRCT Invention Award presented by the National Research Council of Thailand.

PigXY-AMP exemplifies the development of technology to support the agricultural and food industry, aligning with the key strategy of the Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model. This technology not only helps farmers in saving disease screening costs but also serves as a vital tool to prevent disease outbreaks, safeguarding food security and confidence in Thai food products.