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College of Health and Human Sciences

Melgarejo awarded $250,000 seed funds for developing antibiotics

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tonatiuh Melgarejo, an associate professor in human nutrition at Kansas State University, has been awarded $250,000 to assist in the development of a novel class of natural antibiotics for the treatment of mastitis in dairy cattle.

Tona Melgarejo

The award comes from the Center for Animal Health Innovation's (CAHI) Proof-of-Concept (PoC) seed funding program. As principal investigator, Melgarejo also will receive guidance from CAHI's animal health industry-led board of directors to help bring the technology to market.

The product in development is a natural antimicrobial peptide derived from water buffalo with a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Water buffalo are known for their inherent resistance to infectious diseases, and the incidence of mastitis is low in this species, as their typical environment entails a heavy microbial load, according to Melgarejo, a doctor of veterinary medicine and a PhD.

The identification of novel ways to effectively treat mastitis is essential to alleviate the financial burden of this disease in dairy cattle, which accounts for a $2 billion annual loss in the US alone. The dairy industry indicates that there are 9.5 million dairy cattle in the US and that 10 to 35 per cent of cattle are affected by mastitis. The eventual product would not necessitate any milk withholding period post-treatment.

"Sourcing early-stage technologies from academic institutions is an important aspect of pipeline development for animal health companies," says Jeffrey O. Boily, president and CEO of CAHI, "and we are excited to provide this seed funding to Dr. Melgarejo and his team to assist them in developing this exciting and innovative antibiotic."

“Tona Melgarejo’s research in antimicrobial peptides and their effect on immunity systems has taken him all over the world to work with animals such as lions and hyenas,” said Virginia Moxley, dean of the College of Human Ecology. “This is a next important and exciting step for Dr. Melgarejo and his team. He excels in the lab and in the classroom where he makes science come alive for our students.”

CAHI's Proof-of-Concept seed funding supports academic researchers, entrepreneurs and small companies developing early-stage animal health technologies with high commercial potential. However, a great idea and funding are often not enough to ensure success. The PoC seed funding offers support that includes animal health industry experts, scientists and entrepreneurs who are working together to help these promising technologies have a meaningful impact in the market. The key goal of the program is to retire the business risk in these early-stage projects, thereby increasing their attractiveness to follow-on investment by established animal health companies and professional investors.

The Center for Animal Health Innovation connects innovative technology to industry by bringing innovations, scientists, entrepreneurs, funding, and business services together to produce breakthrough animal health products and services. CAHI's Board of Directors includes the senior R&D and C Level Executives from Bayer HealthCare LLC Animal Health Division, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., Centaur, Inc., CEVA Biomune Company, Hill's Pet Nutrition and Merck Animal Health, as well as senior executives from the Kansas Bioscience Authority and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, Inc. CAHI was established in 2011 and is headquartered in Olathe, KS.

Prepared by Human Ecology communications and Center for Animal Health Innovation




This article was posted on Monday, June 11, 2012, and is filed under College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.