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Master of Agribusiness

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Zach Gregoire, St. Joseph, Missouri, defended his thesis, “A Strategic Approach to Reducing Mycoplasma Testing Costs” on December 20. He is a Microbiologist for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. Gregoire will be a spring graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.

Mycoplasma, a bacterium capable of making cattle, swine and poultry animals sick, is often present in ingredients of animal origin used in vaccines to protect livestock.  This is because Mycoplasma is very difficult to control due to its unique characteristics. The cost of Mycoplasma contamination in vaccine products can be very high for both animal health companies and their customers. To comply with regulatory requirements, vaccine manufacturers must conduct numerous expensive and complicated tests on animal products used in the manufacture of their products. By researching killed or inactivated virus products that have been shown to effectively kill Mycoplasma, a more economically beneficial way to eliminate Mycoplasma in the vaccine production process may be discovered.

“If a Mycoplasma contamination is found, a biological or pharmaceutical company can pay large sums of money to investigate the cause of the contamination, initiate corrective action, decontaminate the facility and destroy impacted batches” said Gregoire.

Through his thesis research, Gregoire’s identified three possible virus products that could successfully kill Mycoplasma bacteria. A vaccine manufacturer using these products has the potential to save approximately $1.2 million dollars over ten years.

Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Agribusiness Economics & Management Professor and Gregoire’s thesis advisor, said “Whenever we solve an issue such as Mycoplasma more efficiently, it illustrates the power of research to advance humanity’s wellbeing. Zach’s study has immediate value for decision-makers in the animal health industry. It helps them not only develop more effective solutions to a big problem, but also reduce their regulatory burden.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/38619