It has been one year since the start of our Health for Dairy Cows (H4DC) project was initiated; a project that aims to reduce cryptosporidiosis infections in dairy farms.
It has been an exciting and eventful year with constant planning and ideas being discussed among all the partners, recruitment of man-power, and the start of sample collection, screening, and experiments, and despite Brexit and the current COVID-19 crisis, it was a very productive year.
This newsletter, along with any future newsletters, will be published in order to provide you with a summary of the current progress of our project as well as presenting the next immediate milestones we aim to achieve.
Currently, we have finished recruiting dairy farms in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Dairy farms in the UK will be sampled during autumn 2020. DNA extraction from all samples collected has been completed, and the genetic analysis for detection of Cryptosporidium, which had to be halted due to the COVID-19 lockdown, will resume soon as the labs will be reopened.
In parallel to the aforementioned laboratory work, a detailed review was scripted in order to identify farm practices that may facilitate the dissemination of this parasite. This review is in the process of being submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal so that other researchers may benefit from it.
The development of a new test kit is also ongoing, and potential candidate proteins have already been identified for antibody development, a step which will be resumed as soon as the labs re-open.
Regarding the drug-screening platform to identify anti-cryptosporidial, a prototype is currently being developed will be available in Autumn 2020, and we are confident we will begin testing of this during the next semester.
Finally, since the beginning we have been deeply involved in spreading information regarding this project. As such, we are posting updates on our work through the twitter account, the website, and the dedicated youtube channel all of which allow us to easily disseminate information and reach a diverse audience with various specialities. This was further complemented with different members of this consortium attending and presenting this project in different conferences, such as the International Giardia and Cryptosporidium conference that was held in Rouen, France and virtually at the Microbiology Society Conference.
We are aware that we still have many goals to achieve, and despite the COVID-19 set-back, our consortium remains active and reactive, with a lot of non-laboratory work being carried out from home by all partners involved in this project.
We hope the following elements will provide you information on the current situation assessment.
Jérôme FOLLET, H4DC lead partner.