Marek's disease causes tumors in poultry such as chickens and quails, which results in significant economic loss to the poultry industry. Since it is difficult to distinguish this disease from similar diseases, an accurate and simple diagnostic method was required for disease prevention measures. The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization(NARO) has succeeded in producing monoclonal antibodies that specifically detects Marek's disease tumor cells and established a new diagnostic method for Marek's disease by immunohistochemistry using the antibodies. It is expected that this research result will enable accurate and easy definitive diagnosis of Marek's disease, which has been technically difficult until now, and useful for grasping the accurate outbreak situation of Marek's disease and for disease prevention measures.
Marek's disease is a viral infection that causes tumors/lymphomas in poultry such as chickens and quails, which leads to significant financial loss to the poultry industry. Although the incidence of Marek's disease has decreased due to the popularization of effective vaccines, tens of thousands of birds are still evaluated in the bird inspection to be unfit for human consumption due to Marek's disease and discarded.
Test methods such as PCR test etc., that confirm the viral infection, are not effective for the definitive diagnosis of Marek's disease. Hence histopathological examination is used to observe a formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded(FFPE) specimen of tumor tissue under a microscope. However, this method has a drawback that it is difficult to distinguish Marek's disease from similar diseases such as lymphoid leukosis that causes lymphomas.
NARO has developed monoclonal antibodies against a protein specifically expressed in tumor cells of Marek's disease and established a new accurate diagnostic method for Marek's disease by means of detecting Marek's disease tumor cells on FFPE specimens by immunohistochemistry using these antibodies. This diagnostic method enables accurate and simple diagnosis of Marek's disease without the help of any special equipment or skilled diagnostic techniques. It is expected to be used as a diagnostic method for Marek's disease by immunohistochemistry at domestic livestock hygiene centers and poultry laboratories.
Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 34, 458-464 (2022). doi: 10.1177/10406387221080444.