REPORT SWEET CORN
COULD MAKE ANIMAL
Animal vaccine manufacturers could benefit from the
work of two Purdue University researchers who are
testing biomaterial made from sweet corn to make
Dr. Harm HogenEsch, Purdue Veterinary Medicine
associate dean for research and professor of
immunopathology, and Dr. Yuan Yao, an associate
professor in the College of Agriculture, are developing
biomaterial from a non-genetically modified variety
of sweet corn to use as an adjuvant in animal
vaccines. Adjuvants are substances that are added
to vaccines to stimulate an immune response and to
improve the performance of the vaccines.
Dr. HogenEsch said commonly used adjuvants like
oil emulsions and aluminum have a number of
drawbacks. "The conventionally used oil emulsions
and aluminum are poorly biodegradable and can
induce a long-lasting inflammatory response at the
injection site. Especially for food animals, that's an
issue," he said. "The corn-derived biomaterial being
developed and tested at Purdue may address these
issues in a sustainable way."
Dr. Yao said the adjuvant biomaterial research is
being conducted on a naturally occurring variety of
"The corn that we are using to generate the
biomaterial has been planted for decades without
being genetically modified," he said. "The base
material from which the biomaterial is made is nano-size and quickly digestible like a starch. Our research
with small animals shows that these specifically
designed biomaterial particulates act as an adjuvant
by stimulating the interactions with immune cells."
Dr. HogenEsch and Dr. Yao are looking to develop the
corn-based adjuvant with industry partners.
"When we have talked with companies, the question
comes up how it will work in large animals such as
pigs, dogs or poultry," Dr. HogenEsch said. "We are
PVM Professor of Immunopathology Harm HogenEsch and Associate Professor
Yuan Yao in Purdue’s College of Agriculture, show samples of non-genetically
modified corn that might be used in animal vaccines. Their work could improve the
performance of animal vaccines through a sustainable resource. (Photo courtesy of
the Purdue Research Foundation)
looking to work with industry partners to do more
extensive and expensive research to include more
animals and further develop the technology."
The Purdue Research Foundation Office of
Technology Commercialization has applied for a
provisional patent on Dr. HogenEsch’s and Dr. Yao's
work. The research has been supported by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, the National Science
Foundation and the Purdue University College of
Agriculture's AgSEED funding.