One of the most exciting areas of Alltech's research is nutrigenomics, a new approach to molecular nutrition. "Nutrigenomics, or the effect of diet on health, is one of the most exciting in science today" said Dr Karl Dawson, Alltech's Director of Worldwide Research. "Feeding the gene is the way forward".
Last year Alltech opened the first research centre of its type in the world, dedicated to the study of the effect of animal nutrition on gene expression. Nutrigenomics will more accurately allow competition horses of all disciplines to reach their full genetic potential. It also has huge implications for the breeding industry.
The principal behind this research (I hope you all vaguely remember genetics from school!), is that everything we eat has an influence on our DNA and the expression of certain genes. For example, a herb or vitamin, when ingested, gives a certain response in the animal. This response is the effect of certain components influencing the expression of certain genes. The trouble is, it is a bit hit and miss and until now, uncontrolled. The substances we feed switch on (and off) both desirable and undesirable genes, and until now it was impossible to know which ones.
The Gene Chip system is the key technology in Nutrigenomics. Alltech have developed a way of evaluating the activity of thousands of genes in a single experiment.
What can we learn?
1-A better understanding of the dietary effects and hidden effects of nutrition eg 10% of genes are controlled by selenium!
2-Developing new feeding strategies and better supplements.
The future for this technology is very exciting and it promises to revolutionize animal nutrition in the not so distant future. Currently Alltech is developing cheaper alternatives to expensive ingredients that switch on and off exactly the same genes. In other words, they have the same effect on the animal. One example of this is the development of a safe, more economic natural alternative to feeding high levels of Vitamin E, called EconomasE®.
Alltech's research has already led to the devlopment of some outstanding products, such as the safest most bio-available form of organic selenium available, and Mycosorb®, a patented mycotoxin binder that has given us the ability to protect our horses from the all too common effects of mycotoxin exposure. Further research break throughs promise to revolutionize the animal feed industry in the next 5-10 years, so watch this space!