Folium Science using Guided Biotics® to reduce Campylobacter in farming systems for sustainable agriculture

Dr Karima Djacem – FOLIUM Science

FOLIUM Science has recently been awarded a grant through Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Farming Innovation Programme (FIP), delivered by Innovate UK. This will allow FOLIUM Science to continue to showcase the utility of our Guided Biotics® technology to sustainably address major challenges within farming practices and to boost environmental resilience. The award allows us to continue to build our excellent relationship with the University of Bristol.

Modern agriculture’s challenge lies in increasing productivity whilst ensuring environmental sustainability. Animal production is making significant strides towards reducing the use of antibiotics driven by the rise of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), especially zoonotic pathogens that compromise human health. As a consequence of reducing the use of antibiotics, endemic diseases are re-emerging as major zoonotic problems, such as Campylobacter.

Campylobacter represents a major One Health challenge and zoonotic disease. Poultry production is considered the primary source. The industry aims to have less than 4 x log10 Campylobacter per gram of caecal content in broilers (poultry for meat) at point of slaughter, but blooms of Campylobacter often reach 9 x log10 or more particularly late in the production cycle and on transfer to the slaughterhouse.

Currently the only effective controls are biosecurity measures and abattoir management that do not tackle the problem at its source. Despite improved biosecurity measures, Campylobacter remains a significant risk to human health. Vaccines have been developed without real success in controlling the pathogen. Feed acidification and nutritional supplements including probiotics, prebiotics and organic extracts have met with limited success. Therefore, control measures for Campylobacter are needed urgently in poultry production. However, to secure the future of farming and reinforce resilience in agricultural systems, innovative approaches to pathogen control are necessary.

FOLIUM Science will be the first biotechnology business to commercialise CRISPR/Cas-based solutions for the feed & food industries for precise bacterial control. We aim to address the Campylobacter challenge by leveraging our patented Guided Biotics® technology platform, which has already seen impressive efficacy with its first product, BiomElix® One, in controlling Salmonella enterica in poultry. The focus of this project will be the development of a pre-commercial CRISPR-Cas validated system for the control of Campylobacter in poultry production.

This 36-month industrial research project aims to advance the existing proof of concept through in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo testing to select a product candidate that will be ready for development, manufacturing, and commercialization upon successful completion. Through our well-established and strong collaboration with Tristan Cogan, Senior Lecturer in Infectious Disease at the Bristol Veterinary School, FOLIUM Science seeks to de-risk its Guided Biotics® technology for Campylobacter and demonstrate the efficacy of this innovative solution in poultry, leveraging their expertise in Campylobacter jejuni trials.

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