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Tropical plant combats parasites in chickens
By Tom Nervil
With an extract from a tropical plant, DTU researchers have found a way to combat parasites in chickens.
A new treatment of the widespread chicken parasite, the Ascaridia galli roundworm, is based on a tropical plant extract. The treatment—currently patent pending—is based on natural ingredients, which means that the agent may be used in organic production.
Veterinarian Anders Permin (PhD) has invented the method together with two chemical engineers from DTU and can disclose that the agent is a well-known chemical composition used in the food processing industry, but that it has never previously been used as an antiparasitic agent. The new agent for treatment of parasitic infections in chickens has been tested on live chickens, and the agent has been shown to be highly effective.
“The effect has been found to be close to 100 per cent, and the safety profile of the medicinal product is excellent,” says Anders Permin. “The chickens must be treated three times a year for five consecutive days through water or feed, and there is subsequently no suspension period for using the eggs.”
Further examinations are now being done to find the most effective method of application.
The research project entitled ASKARI is an example of new potential business areas which the industry can create together with Danish universities if the two parties work closer together.
Large Ascaridia galli roundworm estimated to attack 185 million egg-laying chickens in the EU. A team of researchers have now identified an agent to combat the parasite. Photo: DTU
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Big business potential in life science
Seeing that there are nearly 370 million egg-laying chickens in the EU, half of which are in poultry husbandry systems, where the Ascaridia galli roundworm infects all individuals, 185 million egg-laying chickens therefore risk being infected. Globally, there are 7 billion chickens on a market amounting to EUR 106 billion. An effective agent against the parasite may thus become a profitable business.
The same applies to a large number of the projects that the universities are launching. A field that is seeing particularly high growth is life science and bioengineering, on which DTU, among other players, will be focusing intensely in the coming years. This is a field in which engineers are collaborating with veterinarians, physicians, and biologists to find technological solutions to biological challenges.
Biology to become more important in engineering programmes
Biology will generally become a more important subject in engineering study programmes, as vital processes are linked to virtually all technological development areas. In turn, the bio-based departments are also finding value in basic engineering science subjects such as mathematics.
“We are increasingly seeing that there is a need for a new type of engineer, who can quantify biology using computers and equations mixed with test tubes, bacteria, and animal models,” says Niels Tækker Foged, Head of Department at DTU Vet, which has seen a large number of applications for its study programme in Quantitative Biology and Disease Modelling.
“It’s an area in demand in industry because life science is developing rapidly, and it is, in fact, our exciting task to produce the very best qualified candidates,” says Niels Tækker Foged.
source: Technical University of Denmark