TU Dublin students’ invention could revolutionise animal testing

28 May 2019

Image: © Syda Productions/Stock.adobe.com

Four students from TU Dublin have invented a portable kit for testing parasites in animals, reducing the time it takes from days to a matter of minutes.

In a country where agriculture still dominates the economy, TU Dublin product design students Tara McElligott, Sean Smith, Jose Lopez and Daniel Izquierdo could be on to a winner with their new device.

As co-founders of the start-up Micron Agritech, the students have invented a device called Tástáil, which has made the final round of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards, as well as being winner of the Bolton Trust Student Enterprise Competition and the NIBS Worldwide Business Plan Competition.

The potentially revolutionary device is a portable kit that farmers can use to test their animals for various parasites. Not only does it make the testing process much more mobile, it significantly reduces the time it takes to return results.

With Tástáil, the farmer inserts a prepared sample into the device and, in a matter of minutes, they receive a text message with the health information of their animal.

Currently, a parasite test requires the farmer to send faecal samples to a lab, where a vet takes between three and five working days to return a result. In the meantime, many farmers give their livestock antimicrobial medication, even if they don’t need it. This, the students argued, is only contributing to greater antibiotic resistance across the globe.

recent study found that some of the world’s rivers are laced with dangerous levels of antibiotics used to treat humans, but many are also used in large-scale agriculture.

“Tástáil allows farmers to take a sample from their animals and test it on the spot, delivering a result in minutes – which lessens the need to administer unnecessary antibiotics,” said Izquierdo, chief marketing officer of Micron Agritech.

“Farmers do this to protect the rest of the herd, but with Tástáil they will know whether their animals are healthy or not immediately, saving them time and money on veterinary bills and medication.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic