RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD) of Morrisville has entered into a license and commercialization agreement with Zoetis, the world’s largest animal-health company, to bring AAD’s mastitis-detection technology to dairy producers and veterinarians outside of the United States.

“This deal validates our work developing a platform to provide real-time information to detect disease, ensure precise use of antibiotics and improve reproductive, nutritional and overall health status of production animals,” said Joy Parr Drach, president and chief executive officer of AAD. “Our mission is to give producers rapid diagnostic information that helps them make better, more profitable decisions.”

The agreement builds on a pilot program by the two companies in 2016, when Zoetis introduced AAD’s QScout MLD (milk leukocyte differential) test to veterinarians and dairy producers in key European markets.

Advanced Animal Diagnostics

“We are committed to antibiotic stewardship and the important role that diagnostics can play in helping producers and veterinarians provide the best care for their cows,” said Clint Lewis, executive vice president and group president, international operations, commercial development, global genetics and aquatic health for Zoetis. “Early and accurate detection – using technology like QScout MLD – can provide timely information and guide treatment decisions. We look forward to bringing these tools to producers and veterinarians in markets around the world.”

The QScout MLD test detects subclinical mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue in cows, before symptoms are visible. That allows dairy producers to treat mastitis in its early stages, improving animal well-being, and boosting milk quality and production, the companies said in a news release.

The test runs on AAD’s portable “lab-in-a-box” diagnostic platform, the QScout Farm Lab, which provides test results within minutes per cow at dairy operations.

Unlike traditional mastitis diagnostic tests, the QScout MLD test provides early, precise detection of subclinical infection by identifying and differentiating white blood cells in milk, effectively characterizing the immune system’s first response to infection. The QScout Farm Lab reads the test, looking for elevated cell type ratios that indicate infection.

Digital test results on the immune status of each quarter of a cow’s udder are stored securely through an online portal, which also provides benchmarking information to users.

In U.S. trials, QScout MLD has returned about $240 per infected cow, AAD said. Cows diagnosed early in lactation and given follow-up treatment produced 1,325 pounds more milk per cow than non-treated cows.

Mastitis is the most costly disease in the dairy industry with global economic losses in the billions of dollars each year.

AAD’s various on-farm diagnostics for beef and dairy cattle are aimed at supporting management decisions that increase productivity, prevent losses, improve animal welfare and protect the food supply.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center helped fund AAD’s research and development as a start-up company about 15 years ago. The support helped the company attract equity capital from North Carolina investors including Burlington-based LabCorp and Intersouth Partners of Durham, and from investors outside North Carolina including Novartis Venture Funds, Cultivian Sandbox, Middleland Capital and the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

Zoetis, headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, diagnostics, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. The company, formerly known as Pfizer Animal Health until it was renamed Zoetis in 2012, sells products in over 100 countries and reported $5.3 billion in sales in 2017.