Project Snapshot

Treatment Optimization Pillar

Gut Innate Immunity Across Microbiome Differences During Infectious Colitis and Immunomodulatory Therapeutics in Pigs

Principal Investigator: Eduardo R Cobo, PhD

Co-Investigators: Andre Buret, PhD; Leluo Guan, PhD; Ben Willing, PhD

Trainnees: Anshu Babbar, PDF; Cristina Fodor, M.Sc. Candidate; Yi Lin Tan, M.Sc. Candidate

Project Theme: Innovation and Commercialization

The Aim

Our aim is to develop immunomodulatory antimicrobials to alleviate and reduce gut pathogen colonization in swine dysentery (SD).  Such approach is of interest in Canadian agriculture (livestock productivity and animal welfare) to reduce the use of antibiotics in food producing animals.

Why is This Important?

Diarrheic colitis by Brachyspira hyodysenteriae is a devastating disease in growing pigs. SD reduces pork productivity and is an animal welfare issue. There is emergence of antimicrobial-resistant SD bacteria.  


  1. Discover immunomodulatory antimicrobials for controlling SD
  2. Explore the use of diet/ probiotics to promote intestinal microbiome associated with disease resistance

Research Questions

  1. How is the microbiome in the colon of pigs infected with B. hyodysenteriae affected and what is the impact on the associated immune factors?
  2. Can novel immunomodulatory antimicrobials (e.g., IDRs) function as gut health promoters against SD?

Our Approach

  1. SD Model. B. hyodysenteriae colitis in (5 wk. old) pigs (UofC) ± innate defense regulator peptide (e.g., bovine neutrophil bactenecin, IDR-1018) (different routes/times)
  2. Grade colitis. Histology, neutrophil/macrophage accumulation, cytokines, host defense peptides, gut permeability.
  3. Gut microbiome. To assess gut microbiota-driven immune functions in relating to pathogen challenge (diarrheic colitis and therapeutics). Microbial profiling (diversity & content)

Leveraged Sources of Support  

  • Operating grants and infrastructure at the UofC (VSRS) and UofC Departments (Immunology and Microbiome) leverage the MIF funds

Knowledge & Technology Exchange and Exploitation   

  • A multidisiplinary program with the industry and producers to develop novel therapeutic alternatives to reduce antibiotic use in the pork industry

Highly Qualified Personnel  

  • 1 PDF
  • 1 PhD Student
  • 2 Undergraduate Students
  • DVM Students are involved in pig SD experiments and data analysis