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Researchers from Victoria University of Wellington's Ferrier Research Institute, Callaghan Innovation, the University of Canterbury, and Massey University have developed cutting-edge gene engineering technology to help scientists more efficiently manipulate DNA in order to produce new products, including a new veterinary drug.
Ferrier Research Institute researchers have used this novel technology to produce a new flea treatment for domestic pets by manipulating a compound called nodulisporic acid A.
Insecticides - Acid - A - Fleas - Ticks
"When used in insecticides, nodulisporic acid A is very effective at controlling fleas and ticks in domestic pets, but it is currently difficult to produce," says Kyle van de Bittner, a Ph.D. student at Ferrier Research Institute. "It is naturally produced in small quantities by a type of fungus, but until now the complexity of the compound and the fungus have prevented scientists from producing the compound in greater quantities. This has greatly impeded any development of drugs that include nodulisporic acid A."
Using the new gene engineering technology, Ferrier staff have been able to better understand the compound and take the first steps towards producing it in greater quantities. They have identified the genes involved in producing an early stage of nodulisporic acid A, and been able to transfer those genes into a different fungus. This fungus grows quickly and has biological qualities which help speed up the process of making nodulisporic acid A.
Advantages - Method
There are additional advantages to the method.
"Rather than relying on toxic solvents typically used in the chemical synthesis of compounds like this, we use sugar water to grow the fungi to create the compounds," Kyle says. "This is cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than current methods."
Staff - Plan - Development - Compound - Matt
Ferrier staff plan to continue development of the compound. They are also working with Matt Nicholson...
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