US: Center awarded $3.8m for animal and human nutrition R&D

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

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© iStock

Related tags: Research

A research partnership established by two South Dakota universities and industry members focuses on animal nutrition, health and regional economic development, says director.  

The South Dakota Center for Biologics Research and Commercialization (CBRC) has been awarded $3.8m for a five-year partnership to work on addressing or prevent gastrointestinal disorders in animals and humans by the Governor’s Research Center Program.

Work on the collaboration started about a year ago with a planning grant awarded by the South Dakota Governor’s Office on Economic Development, said Jane Christopher-Hennings, head of the South Dakota State University department of veterinary and biomedical sciences and CBRC administrative director.

The planning grant allowed the group to develop a more complete proposal focused on work by researchers at both South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota along, two company representatives and industry members, she said. The group also arranged for $3.2m in grant funding and $1.7m in funding on industry research agreements if the center was established.

The overall focus on much of the research center’s initial work will be looking at ways to improve animal and human nutrition and health through the development of products like nutraceuticals, probiotics, immunotherapies and vaccines, she told FeedNavigator.

Another part of the work will be to develop products with the goal of offering economic development for the state, said Christopher-Hennings. “It’s translational research, you look at the basic research, but what we needed to show what that it could be translational,”​ she added.

“It’s production of products to improve development of nutraceuticals and probiotic discovery pipelines improving digestive health and vaccines using novel vaccine development,” ​she said.

Initial research efforts are focusing on terrestrial animal production, but there may be the option of adding work with aquaculture species in at a later point, she said. Currently efforts are ongoing to acquire the additional materials and equipment that will be needed, she said.

Research priorities

Much of the initial work researchers involved with the group will do is based in projects or topics they had already established, said Christopher-Hennings.

However, an overarching theme of the ongoing work will be to address the need for alternatives to antibiotics, she said.

Work with production animals and probiotics will include a focus on swine, poultry and cattle, she said. Some of the work looks at the generation of bacterial blends that could exclude pathogenic strains.

Vaccine work however likely is set to work with influenza, said Christopher-Hennings.

“But what you really need is a universal vaccine that would be in humans or swine or birds that’s the goal,”​ she said. “If you had a universal vaccine, it could cross a lot of different subtypes as well as multiple different species.”

The group also has a gnotobiotic, or germ free, facility for work with pigs that can be used to try probiotic blends and isolate viruses, she said. “That is one of our platform technologies,”​ she added.

Another facility that is in the process of being expanded is a microbiome and immune phenotyping center, she said. “It would be a core facility, it would be where we have instrumentation that other researchers could use,”​ she added.

Members of the research team have been doing some work in that area already, she said. But the new funding will allow for more equipment and to scale up with the world in progress. 

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