New advances in the sciences has open many doors to how we can use agriculture in our daily lives beyond food consumption.
"Bioscience and innovation in agriculture is happening here and now", told by Courtney Stanton who serves as President of Smithfield BioScience and the Vice President of Bioproducts. Smithfield Foods, Inc. prides themselves on using every part of the pigs they raise, from parts for food to uses in the medical field. In particular, Smithfield Bioscience is focusing on using the DNA similarities between pigs and humans to explore breakthroughs in the medical field. Smithfield Bioscience is the unit in charge of all of the non-food product uses within the development of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and nutraceuticals (foods or supplements with added medical or health benefits).
For instance, did you know:
The brain cells of pigs could be used to help treat Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease?
Or, that their red blood cells could be used in blood transfusions?
Or, that their intestines are used to create a lifesaving blood thinner?
This blood thinner is called Heparin, and it is Smithfield Bioscience’s main product. It was first sourced from pigs in the 1950’s after being sourced from dogs since its discovery in 1916. Heparin can be used as much more than a blood thinner or an injection, however. It also has uses in blood sampling, medical device filters, and medical device coatings. With all of its applications, Smithfield Bioscience has been able to use innovation and ingenuity to get the most out of just one product. Heparin is not all they produce. The pig pericardium can be used for artificial heart valves. Pig bladders can be used in human tissue repair. With so many uses from just one animal, the possibilities of medical development are endless.
Far more animals than just the pigs have contributed to science, however. For instance, in 2004 studies were conducted on the applicable uses of cone snails in pharmaceuticals, finding that cone snail venom could be used in drugs for strokes, heart disease, neurological pain, and epilepsy. Caribbean corals and sea sponges contain a chemical that can actually kill cancer cells. And, a molecule in the pygmy rattlesnake’s venom can be used in a drug that treats people with advanced heart disease and at-risk of heart attacks.
The possibilities of agricultural innovation are endless, especially when it comes to their applications in medical fields. Imagine what has yet to be discovered, and what if you discovered it? Innovatively, these are exciting times, with new technologies only adding to the excitement. To keep up with everything going on in this world, be sure to follow us on our social media platforms.
Keep innovating, keep learning, and let’s learn together!