Update from the Lab

An update from the lab here at Avacta!

Allergy Extension Packages

The launch of the new Allergy Toolkit has been a very exciting time all round at Avacta Animal Health. Even more so for the lab team, as it allows us to add to our current techniques with the addition of microscopy to look at cytology samples. Both the new Pruritic Gold and Pruritic Silver packages include skin cytology to look for the presence of bacteria, yeast or ectoparasites, in addition to; culture and sensitivity, staphylococcus and Malassezia IgE/IgG, Sarcoptes IgG, dermatophyte PCR, and food and environmental SENSITEST® allergy testing. The new Allergy Toolkit was created to help systematically rule out common causes of pruritus in dogs and cats, with cytology being a vital component of this. The lab team have been trained by our dermatology consultant, Dr. Kirsten Pantenburg Dr. Med. Vet Cert AVP (VD) MRCVS, in staining and photographing the samples. Kirsten is responsible for the interpretation and reportage of all cytology results and also offers a full case review as part of the Pruritic Gold and Pruritic Silver packages. The cytology samples we receive can be impression smears, hair plucks, skin scrapes, tape strips, charcoal swabs, scale/crusts or toothbrush samples. We have a dedicated section here on our website to help provide guidance on getting the best cytology samples with step-by-step video guidance. One of the key benefits of our new in-house service is that we are normally able to provide photographs of the actual submitted sample for inclusion in our results packs. This makes the results really user friendly and brings the clinical relevance home, hopefully maximising owner understanding and treatment compliance as a result.


Acute Phase Proteins

Acute Phase Proteins or APPs are gaining traction in human medicine as a way of monitoring infection, inflammation and disease. The beauty of APPs is that they tend to be released quickly and in high concentration as soon as the body encounters a problem. Elevated levels can be detected from a straight-forward blood test. Once the body gets the situation under control, the levels drop back down to normal generally over 48 – 72 hours depending on the APP. This makes tracking response to treatment quite easy. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a commonly detected APP in human health, used to monitor flare ups of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, or for assisting in diagnosis of conditions such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, inflammatory bowel disease, certain cancers or heart attacks. The use of APPs in veterinary is of great interest too. Just like humans, animals release APPs in response to inflammation. CRP is the major APP tested for in dogs, in cats the release α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) is looked at and in horses serum amyloid A (SAA). Both cats and dogs release haptoglobin as a moderate APP. Avacta Animal Health’s canine Lymphoma Blood Test (CLBT) uses the levels of haptoglobin and CRP with a proprietary algorithm to aid in monitoring the disease progression and remission status of dogs undergoing treatment for lymphoma. As more is understood about APP’s in human and veterinary medicine, more tests will be developed for other diseases and conditions to allow better diagnosis and treatment monitoring.

New Recruits

Dan York joined the lab team in September as a laboratory analyst. Dan joins the team responsible for the manufacture of the SENSITEST® allergy tests and analysis of all samples received on site, including food and environmental SENSITEST® allergy tests, APPs and cytology samples. Dan has previously worked at Yorktest, a laboratory specializing in human food intolerance testing, so the science behind the Avacta Animal Health SENSITEST® assays was familiar to Dan. In his spare time, Dan enjoys Pokemon tournaments, singing and bad handwriting.

Conferences and Visits

Avacta’s Senior Veterinary Technical Manager, Johanna Gourlay and Principal Scientist Allergy & Dermatology, Jennifer Bexley, attended the 30th European Society and College of Veterinary Dermatology in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Nicola Kingswell, Head of Laboratory Operations, and Eleanore Moody, Assay Development Team Leader and Senior Scientist attended the 42nd World Small Animal Veterinary Association conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Eleanore Moody and Laura Barrass Hemmens attended the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Antibiotic Resistance and Mechanisms workshop for researchers in Birmingham.

Hayley Booth, Johanna Gourlay and Nicola Kingswell visited Laboklin GmbH in Bad Kissingen, Germany.

Hayley Booth, Nicola Kingswell and the customer services team visited Artuvet Animal Health B.V. in Lelystad, near Amsterdam.

Avacta Animal Health also had a successful stand at London Vet show at Excel London in November.


PAW and EAW Preparations

This year will be the 4th year of Pet Allergy Week and inaugural year of Equine Allergy Week. This will run from 18th to 24th June 2018 and will feature waiting room packs and discounted allergy tests for our customers. This year’s theme is the allergy threshold. The lab team are very excited about PAW and EAW and looking forward to running your samples!




Written by Nicola Kingswell – Head of Laboratory Operations


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