Project partners Utrecht University and Zoetis

Host Defence Peptides (HDPs) as starting point for the development of alternatives to antibiotics. 


Introduction to the project

Animal-Specific Immuno-stimulatory Antimicrobials (ASIA) uses Host Defense Peptides (HDPs) as starting point for the development of alternatives to antibiotics. Animals and humans have efficient first line defense systems that prevent infections by the pathogens that they encounter daily. Recent studies have shown how small naturally occurring peptides (HDPs) and derivatives thereof exert multiple immuno-modulatory functions while not evoking antimicrobial resistance.

The ASIA program specifically focuses on antimicrobial peptides which can be used as immune-modulators or as therapeutics. In ASIA, Utrecht University works together with Zoetis (formerly Pfizer Animal Health). Professor of Molecular Host Defense at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University, Henk Haagsman, is program leader of ASIA since 2006.

Project lead, Professor Henk Haagsman: “Vaccine research is obviously very important but HDPs are an interesting alternative to prevent and treat infections because of their broad applicability. This is also recognised by the pharmaceutical industry. Since the start of the second phase of the ASIA program in 2011 researchers from Pfizer Animal Health [red: now Zoetis] and our department jointly develop anti-infectives based on HDPs.”

Both Utrecht University and Zoetis highly appreciate the partnership. “It is very rewarding to see that our basic research of the innate immune system may lead to products that contribute directly to human and animal health”, says Haagsman. “We are pleased that Immuno Valley has taken the initiative for starting up ALTANT.”

“The funding of this initiative by the Dutch government represents an acknowledgment of the necessity of such programs and the need to responsibly partner with the industry to bring new therapies to market”, adds Jeffrey L Watts, director, Anti-infective Research, Strategies, and Outreach at Zoetis. “This opportunity recognizes the long term need for new anti-infectives for the development of effective treatments for infectious animal diseases while minimizing the impact on resistance in both human and animal pathogens.” 

Project Aim 

To exploit the bactericidal and immuno-modulatory properties of HDPs and derivatives to combat microbial infections without evoking resistance. 

Facts & Figures

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