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Student Gets Cows On Unicycle

A cheaper and more versatile means of delivering drugs to sheep and cows has been developed by a University of Waikato student.

Colin Ogle has researched a novel patent-protected technology which he successfully developed into a plastic T-shaped intravaginal insert to control the mating cycle of sheep and cattle.

Dr Michael Rathbone, director of research at InterAg, the Hamilton company which supported the work, says the new technology Mr Ogle has developed improves those that are silicone or polyurethane-based.

"Although currently available intravaginal inserts are very effective at controlling the mating cycle of sheep and cattle, the type of drugs that can be incorporated into them is limited," Dr Rathbone says.

"It is also difficult to control how fast the drug is released. Also, the cost of the raw materials and current manufacturing methods make such products relatively expensive to make.

"We set out to develop a cheaper, more versatile intravaginal drug delivery system, and that is what Colin achieved."

Inserts manufactured using the new technology use a relatively low-cost polymer. They can modify and precisely control the release of drugs depending on the formulation and allow a wider variety of drugs to be incorporated into them. They are also biodegradable, therefore more environmentally friendly because they can be broken down by bacteria.

Mr Ogle's work at InterAg has been supported by Technology New Zealand's Graduates in Industry Fellowships (GRIF), a programme that helps university students and graduates improve their research skills. He is a PhD chemistry student who grew up on his parents' farm at Ruakaka, in Northland, before going to university.

Mr Ogle says he successfully demonstrated the feasibility of the technology by producing two products, each designed to control the mating cycle, with one specifically designed for use in sheep and the other in cattle.

"The beauty of this technology is its versatility – it can be used for several drug classes and therefore has the capacity to treat a variety of clinical conditions."

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