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PIG-PARADIGM – research into the intestinal resilience of piglets

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded DKK 150 million (€20.1 million) for an interdisciplinary research project that may lead to a reduction in the use of antibiotics in the pig farming industry.

Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection, for example in the digestive tract of piglets, which often get diarrhoea at weaning when they are separated from the sow. However, the current overuse of antibiotics – not least in the pig farming industry – leads to bacteria developing resistance and thus creating a lack of antibiotic efficacy and, worst case, a complete lack of therapeutic options to treat bacterial infections. The WHO predicts that in just 30 years antimicrobial resistance will become the third leading cause of death globally.

In the research project PIG-PARADIGM, researchers from universities in Denmark, the United States and the Netherlands have joined forces to collect data on how to improve intestinal resilience in developing piglets, with the aim of advancing knowledge on how to prevent bacterial infections and reducing the need for antimicrobial use.

researchers will investigate how members of the intestinal microbiome, including bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses, interact and whether changes in dietary composition or the environment can affect the intestinal microbiome so that less antibiotics are required and thereby that microbial resistance is avoided.

Extensive data collected from studying pigs will be analysed in detail by researchers in Denmark (Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University) and internationally (University of California, Davis in the United States and Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands). The collaboration across institutions and borders will bring together the necessary expertise, technologies and animal studies to find innovative solutions to the problem.

May 5th, 2022