Postbiotic compound reduces gut inflammation, thereby promoting better growth and feed conversion.

October 7, 2020

3 Min Read
Auburn Nutrivert.jpg
Nutrivert, a company formed on commercializing antibiotic replacement technologies developed by Auburn professor emeritus Bernhard Kaltenboeck (right) has won the Cade Prize for Creativity & Innovation.Auburn University

A company formed on commercializing antibiotic replacement technologies developed by and with Auburn University researchers has become the first out-of-state winner of Florida’s highly competitive Cade Prize for Creativity & Innovation, according to an announcement from Auburn.

Nutrivert LLC received the award recognizing a growth-promoting technology developed by Bernhard Kaltenboeck, professor emeritus in the department of pathobiology in the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine, and scientists with Nutrient. The Cade Prize provides $21,000 and in-kind legal services to support further research.

Antibiotics have long been used to promote growth in production animals, but such broad use has been tied to the development of resistant bacteria. The market and some governments are pushing for a replacement for antibiotics in agriculture, Auburn said.

The Auburn technology is a synthetic compound that mimics a cell wall component released by all bacteria. This postbiotic compound (i.e., a molecule derived from bacteria) reduces inflammation of the gut in the animal and, thereby, promotes better growth and feed conversion.

The co-owned technology was developed as a follow-up to an anti-inflammatory microparticle formulation that reduces body-wide inflammation in the host animal and was developed by Kaltenboeck and former Auburn veterinary colleague Erfan Chowdhury together with former Auburn chemical engineering colleagues Ram Gupta and Courtney Ober, the university explained.

Nutrivert was formed on the foundation of these technologies that are licensed through Auburn’s Office of Innovation Advancement & Commercialization (IAC).

“This was an Auburn-built effort,” IAC director of commercialization Brian Wright said. “IAC engaged Horace 'Hod' Nalle and Pete Selover as animal health consultants. We introduced this project to them, then introduced them to Dr. Kaltenboeck, and the nucleus of the company was born. Further demonstration was needed before a company could be started, and in 2017, Dr. Kaltenboeck received a $39,000 grant from Auburn’s LAUNCH Innovation Grants Program, which was created to fund exactly that kind of work. The funding led to the key demonstration of the technology, triggering the license agreement and launch of Nutrivert in early 2018.”

Testing to date has shown the potential for these products to promote growth in animals in similar or possibly even superior ways to antibiotics, without the risk of producing resistant strains, all for a similar cost, according to Wright.

“I am extremely proud that the technology leading to this product was created and validated in the department of pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine,” college dean Calvin Johnson said.

“The potential impact of this creative work could reduce the use of antibiotics for growth-promoting purposes in agricultural operations throughout the world. From the perspective of antimicrobial stewardship and reducing suspected factors that contribute to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, this could have a major impact on human and animal health.”

James Weyhenmeyer, Auburn University vice president for research and economic development, added, “The Cade Prize is a very prestigious honor. This recognition is a reflection of Auburn’s commitment to solve real-world problems through discovery and innovation.”

While the Nutrivert product has not yet reached the commercial agricultural marketplace, company officials said early studies have shown that this postbiotic helps farm animals grow to a target weight on 5-10% less feed. They added that the Nutrivert product will always be 100% free of antibiotics.

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