WARF: P00324US

Method to Prevent Formation and Enhance Breakdown of Bezoars


Mark Cook, Beth Drake, Leonard Girsh, Janet Jackson

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing methods to reduce the occurrence and severity of bezoars.
OVERVIEWBezoars, commonly referred to as “hairballs,” contain any of several types of solid or semi-solid masses of indigestible materials. For example, trichobezoars contain a mesh of ingested hair that may trap undigested dietary fat in excess of 20 percent of the hairball mass. Bezoars typically get stuck in the intestines, where they cause significant problems and may require surgery for removal. There are some non-surgical remedies commercially available, including a petroleum jelly-based oral medicament, but these only soften a bezoar and do not actually break it up.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed methods for preventing gastrointestinal bezoar formation and reducing the size of gastrointestinal bezoars in humans and non-human animals. The methods use a food-grade fat emulsifier to reduce the size of a bezoar, permitting it to pass from the animal’s digestive system. An exogenously administered protease may be used in combination with the emulsifier.
  • Reducing the occurrence and severity of bezoars in human and non-human animals
  • Emulsifying agents are food-grade ingredients.
  • Any food-grade fat emulsifier can be used, including various soaps and detergents (e.g., Tween 20 or Tween 80 surfactant).
  • Agents are inexpensive, adding little cost to the final food or feed product
  • Method can be used on fully formed bezoars or those in early formation.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at or 608-960-9842.
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