Biomin looks to expand mycotoxin detoxification technologies

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/NicoElNino
© istock/NicoElNino

Related tags Enzyme Protein

Biomin's R&D team is said to be focused on finding a heat-stable enzyme to neutralize zearalenone, and more.

Wulf-Dieter Moll, research team leader for molecular biology at Biomin, told us about how the discovery process works at the Austria-based company, and how a new product to neutralize mycotoxins in feed is developed, when we caught up with him at the company's world nutrition forum in Vancouver in October. 

“The most intriguing part is finding something new, a new enzyme, a new gene and developing a technology from that,”​ he said. “There are many steps that one needs to get right until an enzyme is turned into a technology that can be made available to the market.”

The company, known for its work with technologies to detoxify mycotoxins like fumonisins, is ramping up its R&D efforts to develop additional products to control other mycotoxins. 

Process involved

Developing an enzyme product to address the presence of a mycotoxin in feed can be a multi-year process, said Moll. “For FUMzyme it took us about 10 years from discovery of the enzyme to getting the registration,”​ he added.

In addition to initial research steps and feeding trials, potential enzymes have to be engineered to be thermo-stable so they can remain viable through the feed manufacturing process, he said. “We change the amino acid sequence to come up with a temperature stable version,”​ he added.

“It goes in rounds of making mutants, and selecting the best mutants, and screening thousands and thousands of variants and the whole process takes more than a year,” ​he said. “But it is an essential part of the process, because customers expect the enzymes to be stable enough to be pelleted.”

Once added to a feed, the enzyme is activated in the intestinal track of an animal, said Moll.

“Enzymes need water to be effective and the substrate of the toxin needs to be dissolved in water so that it can diffuse to the active site and be cleaved,”​ he said. “It’s a hydrolytic reaction, so even the reaction needs a molecule of water and typically animal feed processing is done dry, so there’s no opportunity for the enzyme to work before the feed is taken up by the animal.”

Looking forward

The company is currently focusing its attention on finding a heat-stable enzyme that could be used to neutralize zearalenone, said Moll.

“We have very good enzyme candidates,” ​he said. “So far we have proof of technical feasibility, so now a feeding trial with biomarkers so we know the enzyme is working [is needed].”

The team must also establish a production process to produce the enzyme in a cost effective manner, he said.

Additionally, the company is looking at detoxification during the bioethanol production to ensure elimination of mycotoxins in co-products used in feed such as distillers dried grains and solubles, he added.

“We’ve looked into that and we know that FUMzyme works in the bioethanol process – that’s something for the future,” ​he said. "We already have EU approval for the deactivation of mycotoxins in feed.

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reply to Valerij's comments

Posted by Dieter Moll,

thank you for your comments on the enzymatic mycotoxin detoxification technology. Let me address your comments point by point:
1. We should distinguish between binding of mycotoxins with adsorbents, and degrading mycotoxins with enzymes, as the technologies are fundamentally different.
2. For the development of FUMzyme, we analysed concentrations of hydrolysed fumonisins and the intact parent fumonisins in samples from animals as one biomarker. As another biomarker, a biomarker of fumonisin effect, we analysed shingolipid concentrations. These biomarkers enabled us to get the dose and formulation of FUMzyme right, and to verify detoxification in animals. For aflatoxin, which is the mycotoxin for which adsorption works best, biomarkers are also well established, especially an aflatoxin-albumin conjugate in blood.
3. Studying the reaction products is a key part of our risk assessment. For hydrolysed fumonisins, we added our own studies (Grenier et al. (2012) Biochem. Pharmacol. 83: 1465; Hahn et al. (2015) Food Chem. Toxicol. 76: 11) to an already extensive body of literature (reviewed by Hartinger and Moll (2011) World Mycotoxin Journal 4: 271).
4. The enzymes are digested, and for FUMzyme we investigated and verified digestion for the EFSA dossier. The biomarkers (2.) allow finding the right dose of enzyme to enable degradation of the mycotoxin before the enzyme is digested.
5. Enzymatic detoxification does have its costs, but it's also the superior technology. For some mycotoxins, no good binders exist, so biodegradation is the most cost-effective option, or indeed the only option.
6. Yes, fortunately not all feed contains all the important mycotoxins. However, according to data from our mycotoxin survey (Streit et al. (2013) J. Sci Food Agric. 93: 2892 and annual updates), co-contamination is very frequent.

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Posted by valerij,

- 1. The use of “adsorbents”, including enzymes, causing degradation of mycotoxins in the intestine is probably the most reliable way of preventing mycotoxicosis.
- 2. However, in vivo is not established the degree of degradation of mycotoxins in feed intake, including enzymes for the destruction of mycotoxins.
- 3. The products formed after the degradation of mycotoxins are foreign to the organisms and the consequences of their effects on human and animal organisms has not been studied. It is not predictable the risk.
- 4. Enzymes are proteins, but there is no data about the stability of these enzymes to digestive proteases.
-5. The production of enzymes that destroy mycotoxins costly. The product of company Biomin for the degradation of only one mycotoxin is the most expensive
of all the drugs available on the market for prevention of mycotoxicosis. However, not all feeds contain DON. The price of the product containing an additional 2 -3 enzyme against other 2-3 mycotoxins will be very expensive.
-6. Again, not all mycotoxins feed will match contained in the feed additive enzymes

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