While the company sees value for its platform across many different agricultural sectors, one keen area of interest is livestock health.
Edward Fuchs told Animal Pharm: “We focus on selective removal of the bad bacteria to be able to provide the rumen reinforcement for the good bacteria. It is so selective it can get down to specific strain-level.
“We want to develop effective solutions to maintain the health of livestock from early life by supporting the development of their microbiome while they are in our care. As antibiotics are withdrawn from use, we can now start working on feeding animals to make sure the microbiome is working properly. Establishing a new approach to disease risk management and productivity improvement.”
The Cambridge-based firm has developed its first ‘Guided Biotic’, which stabilizes the early life gut and acts as a preventative measure when added to the animal water system. Founded in 2016, Folium has been working on proof-of-concept studies in poultry this year. Previously, the company has conducted successful in vitro studies and in vivo trials with Guided Biotics.
Edward Fuchs: “Although there has been a lot of work in the microbiome space, the animal’s biome is a complex environment – about which we are learning a great deal more.”
Folium believes its patented Guided Biotics are complementary to other feed additives such as enzymes and probiotics, which Mr Fuchs said have had relative success, as well as being a viable alternative to antibiotics.
Mr Fuchs added: “We don’t have a silver bullet but what we do have is something that will complement those products that are out there already. It can fit in with an integrated management program within livestock rearing.”
Folium is partnering with the University of Bristol and the Quadram Institute in Norwich to develop its technology in the animal health space.
While Mr Fuchs’ background is in the global food industry, his fellow co-founder and the firm’s chairman is Christian Groendahl – a doctor of veterinary medicine from the University of Copenhagen. The company also draws veterinary expertise from Professor Martin Woodward, who has over 40 years of expertise in the food animal gut microbiology and helped develop numerous vaccines for animal use including the first against Salmonella in poultry at the UK’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.
Commercialization in 2019?
“We are coming to the end of initial proof-of-concept studies,” stated Mr Fuchs. “We are now collating data on how successful the microbiome is when you remove unwanted bacteria in the community. How will the microbiome behave? Is the process beneficial? Does it reduce the risk of disease transfer?
“Very early observations are positive in social behavior, faecal consistency and growth rate versus the control group.
“Although there has been a lot of work in the microbiome space, the animal’s biome is a complex environment – about which we are learning a great deal more and where our Guided Biotics will have an important role to play.”
Mr Fuchs’ comments echo that of fellow animal microbiome start-up Anizome, which spoke to Animal Pharm earlier this year about the potential for this space to redesign the way diseases are tackled.
In 2019, Folium aims to firm up its product readiness to start moving into the production and commercialisation phase. To help with these activities, Folium will be looking to secure partners from within the animal health and nutrition sectors.
The firm has been supported to date by funding from the Lundbeck Foundation, which is one of Denmark’s largest commercial foundations, and Innovate UK – a UK government initiative designed to stimulate innovation.