Innovate UK grants FOLIUM further award to develop alternatives to antibiotics in animal rearing

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency has recognised the potential of FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics ™ by supporting a Health and Life Sciences call that will contribute to the fight against anti-microbial resistance.

In partnership with the University of Bristol, and the Quadram Institute Bioscience, the project seeks to demonstrate that FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics ™ can reduce the need to use antibiotics in the production of farmed animals.  The project commenced in September 2018 and will complete in April 2020.

One of the greatest challenges of modern times is the increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) with the widespread use of antibiotics in animal rearing cited as a contributing factor. Not only do resistant bacteria cause productivity and animal welfare issues in the food supply chain but they pose a threat for human health too. The impact on human mortality of AMR is estimated globally at 10 million deaths a year by 2050 and no new antibiotics are currently in development.

Consequently, producers of farmed animals are under pressure to reduce their use of antibiotics yet current preventative and treatment methods for bacterial infections have yet to prove fully effective. Current options include vaccines, probiotic, prebiotic and phytochemical treatments.

FOLIUM Science has developed unique and patented technology in the form of Guided Biotics ™. Guided Biotics ™ selectively remove unwanted bacteria by harnessing enzymes in bacteria as a zootechnical feed additive. In this project FOLIUM Science, the University of Bristol and the Quadram Institute Bioscience will evaluate the effectiveness of Guided Biotics ™ to control specific pathogens and demonstrate superior effectiveness compared to other non-medical interventions.

Poultry production is the fastest growing animal production sector and has been identified as a model within which to develop new interventions that will be applicable across all animal production. Salmonella enterica and Avian Pathogenic Escherichiacoli (APEC) have a high incidence within poultry (c70%) with high prevalence of resistance along with a zoonotic risk to humans. These two gut pathogens are responsible for production losses of up to 15% and have therefore been identified as the focus of the project work. The project is led by Professor Martin Woodward, Chair of Microbiome Studies at the University of Reading with 40 years of expertise in veterinary microbiology.

FOLIUM Science CEO Ed Fuchs says “Innovate UK has recognised one of the greatest challenges of modern times represented by AMR and the potential contribution of Guided Biotics ™.The specificity of our biotechnology allows us to target only those bacteria that are harmful to animal health, leaving the good bacteria intact and stabilising the gut microbiome. Whilst this project focusses on poultry pathogens, Guided Biotics ™ can be equally effective on a broad range of bacterial species found in agriculture and aquaculture and we are already working on solutions beyond poultry production”

In line with Innovate UK’s aims to advance bioscience techniques and to increase yield and sustainability in food production, Guided Biotics ™ have the potential to reduce the cost of production via the decrease in use of antibiotics whilst improving animal health and productivity. Unlike antibiotics there is no withdrawal period after use and Guided Biotics ™ are equally effective against bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

Guided Biotics ™ are administered as an additive either in feed or in drinking water.

Trials are already under way demonstrating consistent in-vivo results across multiple poultry studies with up to log5 reduction in Salmonella bacteria, reducing the risk of contamination and zoonosis and leading to improvements in animal welfare, productivity and quality.

The need for alternatives to the use of antibiotics represents significant bioscience R&D and commercial opportunities. The potential cost avoidance to the livestock industry of alternatives to current treatment methods is estimated to be c£128m p.a.

This project is a new collaboration between FOLIUM Science,the University of Bristol and the Quadrum Institute Bioscience. The combination of FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics ™, the animal models from the University of Bristol and the genome biology expertise of the Quadram Insititute will result in tangible benefits for the food industry and the promise of a long-term contribution to the global challenge of AMR.