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Chemistry

Diet capsule

Animal feeding monitored by an inert chemical substance brings benefits to cattle rearing

MIGUEL BOYAYANBiological marker brings information about digestion and the quantity of food consumedMIGUEL BOYAYAN

To know the quantity of food ingested by a reared animal and how much it absorbs in terms of nutrients is the promise of a new chemical product about to be launched onto the market. With only a daily capsule of hydroxyphenylpropane, which has been given the commercial name of Lipe, the animals could have their feeding monitored much better, ranging from animal feed to that found in the pasture. Already approved for bovine, pigs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, horses and even fish, the product was also efficient in laboratory rats. This final result permits that, over the coming months, Lipe can be tested on human beings. “This is the dream of all nutritionists and the object of research throughout the world” explains the chemist Eloísa de Oliveira Simões Saliba,  a professor at the Veterinary School of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the research coordinator. The tests on humans will be carried out with the support of the university’s Nutrition Course.

The researcher arrived at Lipe’s final formula after 16 years of research that included her master’s degree, doctorate degree and post doctoral work. The study began with lignin, a molecule known as an organic polymer that exists in plants. “From it, we produced a synthetic lignin, purified and enriched with other chemical groupings” says Eloísa. With some positive tests in her hands, she sent off, by way of the UFMG, the deposit of patents in Brazil and abroad.

Eloísa, in order to produce the commercial product, founded a company, named P2S2, at the Inova, the UFMG’s company incubator, along with her research colleagues, professors Norberto Mário Rodriguez, from the Veterinary School, and Dorila Piló Veloso, from the Chemistry Department of the same university. “For now we’re offering Lipe only to researchers into animal feed at Embrapa (The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG), in Paraíba, the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and the National University of the South and the National Animal Technology Institute, both in Argentina” says Eloísa.

Biological marker
The researchers are testing Lipe in other animals such as cats, dogs and buffalo. In all of them, the analyses of digestion and the food quantity ingested are only done by way of feces. In 24 hours after administration, the product begins to work as a biological marker that is not absorbed by the digestive system and is mixed in with the food. The analysis of the results is done by way of infrared light spectroscopy. This technique uses the emission of this electromagnetic radiation in a sample of fecal cake. The proportion of the absorption of the light is variable for each type of nutrient, such as proteins, vitamins, dry material, carbohydrates, etc. This variation is analyzed using software that is going to determine and exhibit the result of the quantity and digestion of each food, always depending upon the Lipe concentration. If a higher rate of this substance in the food exists, it is possible that it had been better digested by the animal.

The analysis is done using spectrometers, which are machines common in universities and research centers, normally used for the analysis of organic substances. The manner in which this will be done is still under study by the company. Another Lipe advantage, according to the researcher, is that it is totally inert and does not cause any type of side effect. “A product used for the same finality in animals, in Brazil and abroad, named chromium oxide, has shown itself to be carcinogenic and is being abandoned.”

Alternatives and cheap
Among the Lipe objectives, in the researcher’s opinion, is its use in helping to elaborate animal feed. “It would be possible to offer alternative foods and to determine the digestibility and the consumption of industrial by-products, such as mashed castor beans, for example, available at a cheap price and in large quantity via the production of bio-diesel.” For her, this is a way of diminishing costs with animal feed and consequently, production costs, as well as even improving the animals’ nutrition.

Each gram of Lipe costs R$ 15.00, it being that one capsule possesses 0.5 grams and only four capsules per animal to be tested are necessary. Eloísa is setting up the P2S2, which has two employees, for commercial production starting during the second semester of this year. Lipe is going to become better known by the scientific community at the next annual meeting of the Brazilian Zootechnique Society, which will occur between the 24th and the 28th of July in João Pessoa, Paraíba State, when nine scientific studies about the product’s use, in various species of animals, will be presented.

In order to start the company and to push forward with research, the P2S2 company received funding from the Brazilian Service of Support to Micro and Small Companies (Sebrae) and the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep), of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The company’s next step will be to initiate tests on human beings. “With Lipe it’ll probably be possible to analyze the absorption of individual foods, in each organism, and to help to make up menus and diets” contemplated professor Eloísa.

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