Feed manufacturer AB Agri is in a partnership with a US biotechnology company to explore the use of probiotic bacteriophages as a feed additive to replace antibiotics and other medicines and growth promoters in diets. It says the work aligns with its sustainable food production agenda.
The US company, Intralytix based in the state of Maryland, was founded in 1998. It has the world’s largest portfolio of US approved commercial phage products for food safety applications as well as being the largest manufacturer of phage preparations under cGMP standards.
The partnership would use Intralytix’s core bacteriophage – the natural viruses of bacteria – technology platform. The companies believe the abundant probiotic microorganisms have the potential to intensify natural processes in combatting bacteria and boosting gut health, without the need for broad spectrum antibiotic medication. The partners will initially investigate one animal health pathogen, with the potential to subsequently explore other targets and indications.
AB Agri completed a collaborative research project with the University of Leicester earlier this year to research the delivery of bacteriophages in broiler chicken feed. The study demonstrated that a low dose of bacteriophages reduced targeted pathogenic bacteria levels in chickens to below detection limits, a result the business says could have a far-reaching impact on poultry production and food hygiene.
“We need to produce our food in a more sustainable way to meet growing demand and higher standards,” says AB Agri innovation director Dr Nell Masey O’Neill. “We are very excited about the opportunities ahead.
“We are at the development stage with the team at Intralytix, researching the efficacy and safety of bacteriophages in animal nutrition. By using naturally occurring bacteriophages we would be building on the existing mode of action in the gut, putting back what should already be present.”
Intralytix founder and chief executive Dr Alexander Sulakvelidze adds: “Bacteriophages have been around for three billion years and are the most ubiquitous organisms on earth. They are the natural enemies of bacteria and can very effectively kill targeted specific bacteria without affecting anything else, ensuring an unprecedented level of safety for an antimicrobial.
“At Intralytix we are working with several partners to develop bacteriophage-based products to control bacterial pathogens in environmental, food processing, and clinical settings. We are looking forward to working with AB Agri to see which applications we can work on together to benefit animal nutrition and agriculture more widely.”