Investors plough over $16m into proteobiotics developer
The Canada-based animal health company announced that it received investment to the value of $16.4m from Toronto-based, Northern Private Capital.
The company has a selection of proteobiotic products, on the Canadian market, developed to influence the microbiome in swine and companion animals, said Hannah McIver, CEO with MicroSintesis.
The company's metabolite-based additives, or protebiotics, were developed from the understanding that probiotics produce metabolites that can disrupt the behavior of pathogenic bacteria.
“We have Nuvio for livestock – a pure metabolite-based product, it’s a fermentation-based product used specifically for swine health [and] we’re doing applications now for poultry,” she told FeedNavigator. “You can see how, on a global level, you’d go straight to the US market, but also to the European market and, beyond there, into other geographies.”
The €16m funding will support that expansion and new product development, said McIver.
“This investment will be directed towards research into animal health, taking this beyond just swine and poultry, where we are today, and looking at broader health applications – such as respiratory disease, skin health diseases, etc. and commercial applications,” she said.
Additionally, the company is working to develop a “new generation of probiotic products,” based on the use of metabolites and an understanding of the role that signal exchange plays in the microbiome, McIver said.
Bacterial signaling and quorum sensing
Bacteria have the ability to communicate with each other and measure population dynamics, said McIver.
When pathogenic bacteria enter an animal they replicate, but it isn’t until they reach a certain concentration. that the bacteria turn on their virulence genes, she said. “They’ll turn on genes that are associated with adhesion, invasion, toxin production and proinflammation.”
“That whole virulence mechanism is governed by bacteria talking to each other, and if we can change the way bacteria talk to each other then we can change how pathogens express their pathogenicity."
Probiotics have the ability to generate molecules to disrupt those communications, she added.
Understanding, influencing the microbiome
There is an evolution in some of the work being done in the probiotic sector right now, she said. One area for development is in understanding how the microbiome works and shifts populations in the gut, and the other is looking at what bacteria are generating.
“It’s not just the bacteria, it’s what they’re producing, and all these byproducts that they’re producing and how they’re working to improve health,” she said. “This is a really exciting area of research.”
That understanding is also leading to the development of new types of products that do not rely on using specific bacteria strains to try and change the gut population, said McIver.
“If you look at what they’re actually producing, then you can make bigger changes to disease states or health states just by using these components they’re producing, rather than doing small population shifts with live cultures,” she added.
Those insights may also have relevance to how pathogenic bacteria spread, she said. “There are big disease shifts that occur through disruptions of that microbiome."
“What we’ll be looking at with these next-generation products is really understanding how the microbiome influences disease states in animals,” she said.
MicroSintesis is already looking at how to improve total flock health and shift disease states, she said.
The fermented, metabolite products currently available were designed to be used during high-stress periods – like weaning in piglets, said McIver. “We will be launching a line of probiotics that go toward more maintenance of health, improvement of feed, nutritional values etc.”
In a study looking at the use of diets supplemented with varying levels of the fermented, metabolite product, 144 piglets were given the additive for seven days prior to a disease challenge. Piglets receiving the bioactive less likely to show symptoms of the illness and, following the challenge, shed less infection in fecal material.