March 19, 2019
neopharma Japan: Connecting humans and animals with 5-ALA
neopharma Japan, the world's number one producer of 5-Aminolevulenic Acid (5-ALA), has its unique definition of "One Health". "At neopharma Japan, we continually study how we can transfer our know-how in 5-ALA technology for animal nutrition and health to human applications, thereby connecting animals and humans as 'one species'," Keiichiro Yoshimoto, Senior Manager, Department Head, One Health Business Department, tells eFeedLink at VIV Asia 2019.
The production process of 5-ALA is patented by neopharma Japan, with the chemical compound itself being patented and harvested by a special bacteria. The company is therefore confident that only they are able to produce 5-ALA on a commercial basis, says Yoshimoto.
But what is 5-ALA? This was one of the common questions neopharma Japan had to answer at the VIV Asia exhibition. For mitochondria in cells to act, a substance called heme is essential. Heme, produced only from 5-ALA and iron, is closely related to ATP production and the reduction of active oxygen. As this indicates, 5-ALA is an extremely important ingredient for maintaining the health of living organisms, be they animals or humans.
"Unfortunately young, and aging animals, have higher tendency of not being able to produce sufficient 5-ALA, and dietary supplementation of 5-ALA would improve their metabolic activities and performance levels," highlights Yoshimoto.
Specifically, 5-ALA serves three key functions in the animal's body. One, it supports the production of hemoglobin which acts as an oxygen carrier. Two, 5-ALA is essential for ATP generation at the cellular level, which is necessary for energy production. Three, 5-ALA supports hormone synthesis which can aid P450 enzymatic activity in the liver.
A question in feed formulation may then arise. How can 5-ALA be used together with other feed supplements such as iron, enzymes, yeast and phytogenics, which can have similar functions to 5-ALA?
Yoko Noguchi, Technical Expert, One Health Business Department, uses the example of iron supplementation to explain. "The mode of action of 5-ALA is distinct from that of iron, acting on the starting side of the metabolic pathway of heme production, thus 5-ALA can boost the effects of an iron injection," she points out.
Trials results comparing iron supplementation only and iron supplementation together with 5-ALA have demonstrated the booster effect of 5-ALA, Yoshimoto adds.
It is also interesting to note that because 5-ALA is naturally produced by the body, there is minimal concern of the development of antibiotic resistance, a hot topic in the feed and livestock industry today. Before one jumps on the bandwagon that 5-ALA could be an antibiotic replacer, Yoshimoto cautions that "efficacy-wise, although 5-ALA has the potential to be part of alternative solution to AGPs, as antibiotics are relatively very cheap, neopharma Japan is in the early stages of studying the challenge of maintaining costs for the producer".
In the broader scheme of things, Noguchi shares that neopharma Japan's global strategy is to "conduct trials in each country with a reliable partner company and university with the latter as a key opinion leader, followed by product registration".
As examples, local trials of its 5-ALA product "Mitochonpower" in sows were conducted with the top agricultural university in the Philippines, University of the Philippines Los Baños, prior to the launch of the product in the country last year with Camden Trading Group, a professional trading company for livestock business.
Trials of Japanese branded cattle had also seen good results, such as immune boosts in calves, diarrhoea and cough reduction, and improvements in bull fertility.