McConnell Lab Research
Dr McConnell is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Current research in her group is primarily centered on bioactive components derived from bovine milk and colostrum, as well as from fruits and industry waste streams (fish and wine).
Colostrum, in particular, contains many nutrients for neonatal growth, as well as immunoglobulins, anti-microbial factors (such as lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase), growth factors (IGF) and immunoregulatory substances (e.g. cytokines). In addition to whole bioactive proteins and lipids, milk and colostrum also contain peptides, which become active following digestion and cleavage.
The dairy industry is investing money in research to discover novel bioactive compounds in milk and colostrum, which may be able to be used in the nutraceutical or pharmaceutical industries. New technologies available to the dairy industry have resulted in the production of libraries of potentially bioactive compounds.
We have been screening one of these libraries for anti-microbial and anti-infective properties against bacteria, yeasts and viruses. In addition, an immunomodulatory assay for screening the library has been developed and is now in use. Fractions showing potential in in vitro assays have been transferred in to in vivo models. We have had success in reducing rotavirus infection in one of these models resulting in a patent being published. One of the products identified will be entering a clinical trial of rotavirus infection in India in 2010.
LactoPharma, which is a joint venture between Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd, Fonterra Ltd and Auckland Uniservices Ltd and is partially funded by FRST, pays for this research. One of the aims of the company is to improve human health using dairy components.
The horticulture industry is also looking for bioactive components in many fruits. Using our in vitro assays we have been screening libraries of both fruit pulps and extracts and then screening fractions with potential in in vivo models of infection.
Many industries generate waste streams. In association with Dr Aladin Bekhit in the Food Science Department waste streams from the fish and wine industry have been processed to extract compounds that may have anti-oxidant or anti- microbial properties. Two Masters projects have been completed - one involving extraction of lectins from fish roe (Clara Bah) and anti-oxidants and anti- microbial compounds from waste from the wine industry (Jou Cheng). Fundign from AgMardt and the Sustainable Farming Fund has led to waste from the fishing industry (squid pen) being converted to chitosan for use as an laternative treatment for footrot. Following success in vitro with the organisms that are inmplicated in the pathogenesis of footrot further funding has been obtained to allow an on farm trial to be undertaken later in 2013.
As well, Dr McConnell has an interest in the normal microflora of the gastrointestinal tract and is continuing some collaborative work with Dr Heather Brooks in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology on necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is an acquired intestinal disease primarily found in premature neonates and which has a high mortality rate. At present, it is a disease of unknown origin, although many factors including microbes, an immature intestinal epithelial barrier and an immature host defense system have been implicated.
Two MAsters students (Kristian Thomson and Anthony Wade) are currently working on aspects of the cellular interactions and signalling using bacteria isolated from cases of NEC in association with the probiotic strains now used prophylactically to prevent NEC in neonatal units.
(See downloads section below for PDFs)
Mros S, Ali MA, Bekhit A, McConnell M (2012). In vitro evaluation of the antimicrobial effects of chitosan against bacteria involved in ovine footrot. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 72: 196-198
Vern Jou Cheng, Alaa El-Din A. Bekhit, Michelle McConnell, Sonya Mros, Jenny Zhao “Effect of extraction solvent, waste fraction and grape variety on the antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of extracts from wine residue from cool climate” Food Chem 134:474-482 (2012)
Alaa El-Din A. Bekhit, Vern Jou Cheng, Michelle McConnell, Jenny H. Zhao, RichardSedcole, Roland Harrison"Antioxidant activities, sensory and anti-influenza activity of grape skin tea infusion." Food Chem 129: 837-845 (2011)
Bah, Clara Shui Fern; Fang, Evandro Fei; Ng, Tzi Bun; Mros, Sonya; McConnell, Michelle; Bekhit, Alaa el-din "Purification and characterization of a rhamnose-binding chinook salmon roe lectin with antiproliferative activity toward tumor cells and nitric oxide-inducing activity toward murine macrophages" Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 59: 5720-5728 (2011)
Biological Acitivity of Lipid and Protein Derivatives from Bovine Milk on Human Rotavirus strain Wa in vitro M A McConnell, G Buchan, C, Fitzpatrick and A MacGibbon WO 2009/020405
Brooks H J L., McConnell M A, Corbett J, Buchan G S, Fitzpatrick C and Broadbent R S. Potential prophylactic value of bovine colostrum in necrotizing enterocolitis in neonates: an in vitro study on bacterial attachment, antibody levels and cytokine production. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol 48: 347-354 (2006)
Davis C, McConnell M, Slobbe L, Haggarty N, Buchan G. Murine antigen-presenting cells are multifunctional in vitro biosensors for detecting the immunoactive potential of bovine milk products. JNutr 135(11) 2651-6 (2005)
Brooks H.J.L., Ahmed D., McConnell M.A., Barbezat G.O. Diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection by polymerase chain reaction: is it worth it? Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease 50: 1-5 (2004) ?Ahmed D, Brooks H, McConnell M, Barbezat G. Antibiotic resistance in Helicobacter pylori: is it a problem in New Zealand? The New Zealand Medical Journal 117: 1-6 (2004)
McConnell, Michelle A, Glenn Buchan, Michail V Borissenko and Heather J L Brooks. A comparison of IgG and IgG1 activity in an early milk concentrate from non-immunised cows and a milk from hyperimmunised animals. Food Research International 34:255-261 (2001)
- Course Director, Hazard Assessment & Management Programme, University of Otago »
- ?Biological Compliance Officer for the University of Otago
- NZ Microbiological Society representative on Australian New Zealand Standards Committee for Safety in Laboratories Series (CH-026)