Convergent Bio Marker Test for CWD Exposure

Convergent has developed a patent pending blood and tissue biomarker test that holds the promise of confirming whether or not a deer has been exposed to CWD. Convergent’s goal, once the test has been validated through a peer reviewed journal and received USDA approval, is to release the test for use by hunters and state testing labs. Hunters will eventually be able to either pick up a sample collection kit from their state wildlife agency, retailer, or order online when they get their license. Hunters will collect a small, corn kernel-sized piece of muscle, cut it in half and drop both pieces into a tube and mail to the designated lab. Within three days of the lab’s receipt of the sample it will be able to tell hunters if the deer they harvested has been exposed to CWD.

Convergent is working with University investigators to validate and further develop the test and procedures. The research team recently released a non-peer reviewed paper on its validation study, available at www.biorxiv.org, titled “A Non-invasive, Biomarker Assay for Detecting Chronic Wasting Disease Pathology in White-tailed Deer”. Convergent and the University are actively seeking research partnerships with state wildlife agencies and the USDA to gather additional deer tissue and blood samples in the 2022 deer season. The samples will allow the research team to further validate the test and to submit a broader study to a peer reviewed journal.

Convergent will seek full regulatory approval of the test upon publication of the peer-reviewed paper. Before the test can be released for public use, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will need to validate the test and it will need to be approved for use in the National Animal Health Lab Network, a process that can take several years. Convergent anticipates submitting to APHIS with publication of the peer reviewed study. Convergent will also pursue approving the test as an option for the USDA captive herd release program for Cervids.

The Challenge of Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer is spreading throughout the United States. The disease is fatal for deer, eventually causing them to waste away and die. For hunters and their families, CWD has become a significant concern. While there is no proof that CWD does transfer to humans, a similar disease, Mad Cow Disease, has proven to jump to humans.

CWD is a disease of the brain caused by protein infective agents called prions. Prions reproduce and circulate in the deer’s body, eventually accumulating in the brain and other tissues.

All animals produce biomarkers in their bodies. Animals that are being challenged by diseases have changed biomarker profiles. Convergent Animal Health, in conjunction with the research team, believes it has established a biomarker profile for healthy animals. Once validated, the biomarker test will be able to be used to ensure that a harvested deer has not been exposed to CWD prions. Convergent, along with the research team will also validate the test with blood instead of tissue, allowing its use with live animals in addition to harvested animals. With validation and USDA approval, deer ranchers will be able to use the test as a herd management tool to help protect against the spread of CWD.

Organs Affected by Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)