July 21, 2020


University of Queensland partners with Boehringer Ingelheim on development of natural antiparasitics


Professor Robert Capon and Dr. Zeinab Khalil from University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience have been awarded a A$700,000 (~US$492,000) Australian Research Council Linkage Grant to partner with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia on the development of natural antiparasitics, which will provide funding and in-kind support totalling A$1.5 million, Vet Practice Magazine reported.

Production losses and livestock treatment costs stemming from nematode infections remain a significant cost to the industry. As some nematodes develop resistance to conventional anti-parasitic compounds, cattle and sheep producers often have touse a combination of active ingredients to help prevent and overcome multi-drug resistance.

The researchers will study bacteria and fungi present in infected sheep faeces and pastures from commercial sheep stations across Australia with the aim to discover new natural antiparasitics that could also prevent multi-drug resistance.

Fungi and bacteria can have 'silent' or switched-off gene clusters with antiparasitic properties.

"The researchers aim to activate these 'silent' genes by changing the conditions in which the microbes grow so that they may reveal the natural chemical defences they normally keep hidden deep in their DNA," said Dr. Kim Agnew, head of Research and Development for ANZ, Boehringer Ingelheim.

Boehringer will play a key role in helping screen new compounds identified during the research for their antiparasitic activity. This would be done at the company'srobotic screening facility in the United States.

The aim is to also discover new classes of natural antiparasitics with various modes of action which will prevent the development of  multi-drug resistance.

"New antiparasitics will have a radical effect on farming - allowing less frequent application of chemicals, less chemical stress on the environment, and an ability to rehabilitate infected pastures previously deemed uneconomic," Dr. Khalil of the University of Queensland said.