Una investigación innovadora para el sector pecuario de Argentina y Latinoamérica se desarrolla en las instalaciones de los laboratorios de la Universidad Nacional Villa María. Se trata del diseño de un dispositivo capaz de detectar de manera temprana la tuberculosis en bovinos. La tuberculosis es una enfermedad bacteriana causada por Mycobacterium tuberculosis en humanos y Mycobacterium bovis en bovinos que, si bien puede afectar a distintos órganos del cuerpo, principalmente ataca a los pulmones. A diferencia de los humanos en los animales no tiene cura además de no presentar síntomas visibles impidiendo su rápida detección para el tratamiento.

Frente a esta problemática, el proyecto de investigación que lleva adelante Lucia Saad se plantea el objetivo de desarrollar un dispositivo portátil, de bajo costo y sensible que sea capaz de detectar la presencia de la bacteria M. bovis de manera temprana para dar el tratamiento necesario a los bovinos.

El microchip:

El prototipo que se está ideando en los laboratorios consiste en un biosensor físico, con una parte electroactiva fabricada en oro, en la cual se podrá colocar la muestra del animal para la posterior lectura del análisis. Además el microchip podrá usarse tanto para sangre como leche. “La idea de esto es que cualquier productor de la industria pueda realizar análisis a su ganado de manera periódica evitando grandes pérdidas económicas”, apuntó la investigadora Lucia Saad​.

Además explicó que si bien existen dispositivos de este tipo en el mercado, ninguno de ellos está preparado para arrojar datos respectivos a esta enfermedad bacteriana por lo que este tipo de instrumento científico desarrollado en Villa María se posiciona como único en su tipo en el cono sur del continente.

Análisis: 

El procedimiento de análisis consiste en tomar la muestra del animal para ser colocada en el biosensor, el cual estará cargado con una capa de antígeno que será capaz de determinar la presencia de anticuerpos de tuberculosis bovina o no en la sangre. En el caso de infección, cuando el anticuerpo y el antígeno entren en contacto en la parte activa del dispositivo, éste enviará la señal al lector pudiendo advertir la enfermedad de manera rápida y certera.

Según comenta Lucía, la idea final del trabajo es poder realizar la transferencia de este dispositivo al mercado para poder ser comercializado. La inversión que implicaría la compra de este tipo de instrumento se vería reflejada en el ahorro de recursos por parte del productor de la industria agrícola-ganadera.

“Una vez al año Senasa realiza los controles pertinentes en los bovinos y en el caso de que se encuentre la enfermedad se debe sacrificar el animal porque por lo general está en un estadio avanzado, lo cual implica una pérdida de capital significativa para el productor”, agrega Saad.

El dispositivo podrá ser maniobrado por cualquier productor que desee adquirirlo para un seguimiento de cerca de su ganado y la mayor ventaja consiste en que también receptará muestras de leche, haciendo menos invasivo el control para el animal.

Si bien este proyecto trabaja en la tuberculosis bovina, el sensor es factible de ser utilizado en otras especies animales.

Perfil de la investigadora:

Lucía Saad tiene 27 años y es oriunda de Córdoba. Se egresó de la Licenciatura en Química de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC) y se encuentra realizando el trayecto doctoral en Química, en el marco de una Beca Conicet. El trabajo de investigación que lleva adelante se titula “Desarrollo de inmunosensores impedimetricos para el diagnóstico de tuberculosis bovina” y es dirigido por el doctor Pablo Fiorito de la UNVM y la doctora Patricia Molina de la Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto (UNRC).

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