“Had it not been for UND and the support of that University, we would never be where we are now,” he said.
Glynn’s referring to a collaboration between Interglobal Biologics, Inc., a biotech offshoot of Schiltz Foods, Inc., Sisseton, S.D., and the University of North Dakota Research Foundation (UNDRF), a UND-affiliated development organization, that’s creating an innovative new treatment for West Nile virus (WNV) using the antibodies drawn from geese.
The two entities have combined forces to form a new business, known as Avianax, to nurture the biotechnology and get it to market. The development also could prove to be an economic shot in the arm for Tolna, N.D., about 90 miles west of Grand Forks, where the largest research goose farm in North America has been established to supply the sera needed to produce the vaccines.
Glynn said UND microbiology and immunology experts, along with UNDRF folks who know their way around the biotech industry, gave the new business instant legitimacy and credibility in its quest to get the promising new vaccine tested and licensed.
“We’re goose herders out of northeast South Dakota, ”Glynn said. “We didn’t know anything when we started doing this, and what we did know we learned from the Internet or by making calls to the (Food and Drug Administration).”
Avianax is poised to move into the new REAC 1, which contains the Center of Excellence for Life Sciences and Advanced Technology (COELSAT). The company also has purchased a former turkey farm near Tolna and renovated it into a goose operation that will hold more than 2,500 birds.
Just as importantly, Avianax is collaborating with industry partners, including fellow REAC 1 tenant NovaDigm Therapeutics, Inc.; Winnipeg-based Cangene Corp., which specializes in manufacturing vaccines and antibodies for clinical testing; and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
At REAC 1, Avianax also enjoys the experience of Dr. David Bradley, UND associate professor of microbiology and immunology, an expert in preclinical tests needed to turn goose antibodies into therapies to treat humans infected with West Nile virus.
Bradley, with Barry Milavetz, UND interim vice president for research and economic development, and Jim Petell, executive director of the UND Research Foundation, joined Jim Melland, formerly of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., to bring a local economy focus to the project. Melland contacted the parent company of Avianax, Schiltz Foods, three years ago when the school was asked to figure out how to deal with a virus that infected the company’s domestic geese flock.
Now, Bradley is the principal scientist for Avianax in the laboratory, extracting antibodies from geese. The antibodies are the key ingredient in the immune response to West Nile virus.
“The use of goose antibodies is unique in that avian antibodies do not bind to other cells of the immune system in the way that mammalian — mouse and human — antibodies do, and thus do not need significant modifications to prevent unwanted inflammatory responses,” Bradley said.
The opening of REAC 1 and its state-of-the-art biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) laboratories greatly assist Bradley’s ongoing research. Previously, much of his work had to be sent to Iowa State University in Ames for testing, as there was no suitable BSL-3 at UND or in the region.
“REAC 1 will allow us to perform all of these studies on site in the BSL-3 and animal BSL-3 facilities,” he said. “BSL-3 space is very limited nationwide, and there are long waits to do studies elsewhere.”
“Without a BSL-3 facility, we would never get out of the preclinical stage of the project and would not be in North Dakota,” Glynn said.
A finicky bird
Then there’s the Avianax operation in Tolna. Glynn said that having a goose farm within 90 miles of UND saves Avianax time and money. Before, raw materials had to be shipped up from Schiltz Foods in Sisseton, a 350-mile round trip.
Avianax found just what it needed when it purchased a former turkey operation from a local farmer. The farm was renovated to accommodate geese, a highly intelligent and social animal that needs about five square feet of space per bird.
“If you try to pen them up too much, they die,” Glynn said. “They are a hard avian to raise because they are so finicky.”
What made the situation in Tolna even better was that the community still had a defunct poultry processing plant that presented a perfect spot for off-site experiments and preparation before the raw materials are brought to the clean laboratories inside REAC 1.
“The city of Tolna continued to maintain it after it closed in 1994,” Glynn said. “They kept the heat on and did a lot of things so it didn’t go to wrack and ruin in the hope that some day they would be able to open it up to another business.”
Glynn said there are clear economic development opportunities in Tolna. Two farm families have been hired to maintain the Avianax goose farm, feeding the birds, keeping them cool and protecting them from predators.
“It gives them a good ancillary income,” Glynn said.
Avianax also plans to hire people to work in the preparation facility in Tolna. Eventually, the business would like to get to the point where it is drawing antibodies from goose eggs as well as the geese.
Glynn explains that one goose egg can produce at least six doses of vaccine, compared to only two from chicken eggs. One dose of small pox vaccine costs about $33. Using those figures, one goose egg potentially could net Avianax $190. Each goose typically lays 30 to 40 eggs per season.
Bradley said his work in REAC 1 also will provide opportunities for North Dakota’s graduate students and possibly for undergraduates to be involved in real, meaningful research. It provides a solid foundation on which to build an even more focused infectious disease research program at the University, he said.
“I see the work being done collaboratively between UND, UNDRF and Avianax, as well as the work by NovaDigm, as just the first step in this growing research area that will benefit the area economically and provide excellent opportunities for UND and North Dakota State students and graduates.”
David Dodds | Newswise Science News
Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses
24.04.2017 | Indiana University
Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years
24.04.2017 | University of Oxford
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences