Sep 25 2009
The Aquatic Animal Bio-Medicine R&D Team (AABM Team) of National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan, led by Distinguished Prof. Huey-Lang Yang from Institute of Biotechnology, won two medals out of more than 100 teams in the national contest, “2009 Crazy Idea – King of Practical Applications on Creative Researches and Development of Biotechnology,” organized by the Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan. The AABM Team was awarded with a gold medal for their work called “Aquaculturized Aurofac” and a bronze medal for their project on “Production of Polyunsaturated Acids by Using Microalgae.” They will receive their medals from the Minister of Economic Affairs on October 15th. The main objective of this contest is to encourage any creative idea in Bio-Medicine R&D among college students, and to produce more industrialized products along with fostering development of biomedical industry in Taiwan. NCKU Aquatic Animal Bio-Medicine R&D Team was also awarded with two gold medals last year. This is the second consecutive year for them to win the honor.
The gold project on “Aquaculturized Aurofac” was directed by Prof. Tzong-Yueh Chen and worked out by a team comprising a PhD student, Ms Yi-An Chen, along with four master students, Ms Wan-Erh Chen, Ms Wei-Chen Wang, Ms Yi-Ling Huang and Mr. Ching-Yu Lin. In this project they mainly applied their idea using vaccine to achieve a non-transgenic approach to functional removal.
As myostatin (MSTN) can deter muscle growth, they stimulated groupers to produce antibody by themselves against their myostatin (MSTN) by immunoassay to reduce the MSTN concentrations in their bodies so as to promote their growth. As a result, growth rate of groupers increase by around 30%, as well as the required feed to groupers has been duly reduced by 15%. Hence, it does not only reduce the cost and time risk of culturing groupers, but also avoids the risks in escape of transgenic species to wild. This is certainly a breakthrough in aquiculture biotechnology and will help restore the aquatic farming of grouper – the flagship aquiculture of Taiwan, severely hit by the 88 Flood caused by Typhoon Morak.
In addition, this technology can also be applied to other farmed animals such as pigs, cattle, sheep and other livestock or chickens, ducks and other poultry flocks. In view of annual global pork consumption, equivalent to 1 billion pigs per year worldwide, if such technology can be widely prevailed, not only the cultivation cost could be significantly reduced but also the required animal feed in corn could be saved by 170 million metric tons per year, which in turn could feed 570 million human beings for a year. This could certainly relax the stringent food supply encountered on earth nowadays.
“Production of polyunsaturated acids by using microalgae” was awarded with a bronze medal under supervision and direction of Prof. Yi-Min Chen. The team members included a PhD student - Ms Chin-Chiu Lin and two other master students, Mr. Chun-Wei Tseng and Mr. Tsung-Yuan Chen. They discovered native strains of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-rich microalgae, and developed a successful extraction procedure of DHA, which could be regarded as a breakthrough in human healthcare and development in medicine.
DHA is commonly known as a kind of fish oil (Omega 3). It is an important nutrient for growth and development of human, animal and fish. DHA does not only improve the growth of babies and young child’s brain, retinal development, but also prevents cardiovascular disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic diseases. It is an essential nutrient for people from youth to elder.
Therefore, a successful research on DHA-rich microalgae has proved of great significance to the development of human health and medicine. As getting scarcer and scarcer in ocean fishes and marine animals, a conventional supply of DHA, an invention in a new source of DHA is important not only to ecological conservation of ocean, but also to supply a large number of vegetarian ethnic foods by algae from the plant. Moreover, in the conventional extraction and fermentation method of DHA from fish oils, a risk of mercury or chemical pollution is somewhat difficult to avoid, and provision of clean and pollution free DHA is hard to achieve. This new discovery from DHA-rich microalgae definitely improves the quality of health food products and the health of all people; moreover it will be absolutely the best substitutes of fish oil in the future. It can be supplemented to food, milk, feed, and many other products with the annual revenue totaling more than 7 billions dollars. The DHA-rich microalgae technology has been transferred and leased to VEDAN Biological Material Business.
These two award-winning technologies are currently under application processes for patent protection. They have been favorably approached by many manufacturers. It is expected to promote the further development of the domestic biotech industry.