Success in the biotechnology world is hard to come by. While upstart companies may have fascinating research and innovative technologies, bringing an actual product to commercial success requires deep pockets, and for good reason – getting government approval is a long and costly affair.
So when a technology born in a Canadian university laboratory becomes a successful commercial venture, it is cause to celebrate. Not only does it prove to the scientists toiling away in institutional settings that their work can make a difference, but it can also be profitable. Prevtec microbia Inc., with its commercially successful swine vaccine Coliprotec, is just such a success story.
The science behind the animal health company originated in the Reference Laboratory for Escherichia coli (EcL) of the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire at the Université de Montréal. This lab, already well known as the only one of its kind qualified to report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on animal-related E. coli outbreaks, had been working on a vaccine that would stop post-weaned piglets from contracting diarrhea. But until it was spun off into the private biotechnology company Prevtec microbia, there were no plans to bring the benefits of the performance-enhancing drug to swine producers that could give them a chance to combat a costly and sometimes deadly disease. Today, the company’s product is produced and distributed in Canada coast to coast.