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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

SpermAct: A novel boar sperm cell activator for improved pork production.

Alternative title: SpermAct: Spermaktivator for optimalisert svineproduksjon

Awarded: NOK 4.8 mill.

Spermatech AS has identified and characterized substances that increase the swimming ability of sperm isolated from pigs. In collaboration with Norsvin, Spermatech AS has conducted field trials and shown that the substances, called activators, positively affect the number of offspring after artificial insemination. When using an activator, the sows get more offspring in their first litter after sexual maturation and more offspring in total over time as production sows. The activators have low solubility in aqueous solutions. To increase solubility in aqueous solutions we collaborate with the company Aragen. At the same time, in collaboration with NTNU Gjøvik, we develop an improved method of introducing the activators by artificial insemination. Finally, we wish to test optimized activators and new insemination methods in a field study in collaboration with Norsvin. We see that Spermatech's activators have great commercial potential with a catchment area in the international market, not least in countries such as China, which is the world's largest producer and consumer of pork meat.

More than 100 potential sperm cell activators were initially identified by Spermatech AS in a High-Throughput Screening (HTS) of a chemical library. The initial screen was performed on living sperm cells revealing that SpermAct significantly improved the motility (swimming) of all boar sperm tested. Due to these facts, we have performed two field studies, a pilot study including 27 sows and a larger field trial including 441 sows. The pilot study revealed that SpermAct added to boar semen before insemination resulted in a trend of 2 piglet embryo increase and no toxicity. In the large field trial, the trend of increased number of piglets born using SpermAct was supported and a 5% increase in pregnancy rate along with an average increase of ~1 more piglet per sow was observed. SpermAct also improved the weaning to service interval (WSI) meaning that the interval between consecutive pregnancies wwere shortened. However, during the field trials we experienced low solubility of SpermAct in aqueous/ionic solutions including semen. We see that improving SpermAct solubility is required for optimal use and effect in pork production. Based on this Spermatech will develop SpermAct further in order to improve pork production, by: 1) improving solubility of SpermAct in aqueous/ionic solutions (semen) and 2) development of a novel insemination tube, which together with newly formulated SpermAct will be 3) tested in a small-scale field study for piglet production. The innovation employs development of a smart solution (extenders) for the delivery of SpermAct to semen ampullas. The innovation is in accordance with the BIONÆR strategy of performing “Research based innovation in food and bio-based business”, along with “improve value chain for future food production. In line with this, the project will add commercial value and competence to biotechnology driven companies and academics in Norway in accordance with the grant call.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri