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A real life example of our innovation process

This example shows how the discovery of host-pathogen interactions in the pig can lead to a technology platform for intestinal delivery of drugs and biologicals in pigs and humans.


Switch here to a general description of our innovation process

Discovery/basic research


We discovered how Escherichia coli bacteria attach to a receptor on the intestinal wall of weaned piglets, causing diarrhoea and infecting the pig (by passing through the intestinal wall and entering the blood vessels)

Concept for possible industrial application
  • Can we use the receptor as an entry portal to increase the uptake of oral vaccines or drugs from the intestine?

  • Is the receptor only expressed in pigs or also in other species, including man?

  • How can we target the receptor and increase the uptake of vaccines and drugs?

  • Which technologies do we need? Very often these technologies are available within Ghent University. If not, who can we collaborate with?

Step 01: Research
Step 02: New Applications
Step 03: Testing
Intellectual property and patent application
  • Patent application with product and method claims on the intestinal delivery of drugs and vaccines through targeting to the receptor

  • Claims are supported with proof-of-concept data on the in-vitro and in-vivo efficacy of the antibody-antigen/drug constructs

Step 04: Patenting
Technology Offer
  • Specific swine vaccines offered for licensing

  • Venture track for new spin-off based on other applications of the targeting technology (One Health)

Step 05: Tech offer
Industrial proof of concept
  • Swine vaccine

    • Vaccination challenge study

    • Optimization of the vaccination dose and schedule

  • Other applications

    • Translation of the technology into applications in human medicine

    • Testing possible applications for controlling intestinal inflammation

Step 06: Proof of concept
Final valorisation
  • Swine vaccine

    • Technology open for partnering towards further development up to market authorization (very often via an R&D and Option Agreement with intensive collaboration during the R&D phase)

  • Other applications

    • Development of the business case

    • Interactions with investors for different stages of development and proof of concept (non-clinical and clinical)

Step 07: Valorisation
Technical proof of concept
  • Development of antibodies to target the intestinal receptor and use these antibodies as a carrier to deliver antigens (of a vaccine) or drugs through the intestinal epithelium

  • Test binding and internalization of the antibodies in vitro with tissue/organoids of different animal species

  • Test immunogenicity of the antibody-antigen construct (the vaccine) in pigs in vivo using our own animal facilities and animal models (including challenge for first evaluation of efficacy)

  • Test in vitro if the results can also be translated to humans (One Health)

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