Investors plough over $16m into proteobiotics developer

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/dusanpetkovic
© GettyImages/dusanpetkovic

Related tags: Probiotic, microbiome, swine, Poultry

MicroSintesis is looking to expand globally and to develop new microbiome-influencing products for livestock following an investment, says CEO.

The Canada-based animal health company announced that it received a $16.4m investment from Toronto-based Northern Private Capital.

The company has a selection of proteobiotic products developed to influence the microbiome in swine and companion animals available in Canada, said Hannah McIver, CEO with MicroSintesis.

The metabolite-based additives, or protebiotics, was developed from the understanding that probiotics produce metabolites, which can disrupt the behavior of pathogenic bacteria, according to company information.

“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,”​ McIver 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 wider geographies.”

The additional funding is intended to support that expansion and new product development, she said.  

“This investment will be directed toward research in 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.

“Using the metabolites – we specifically use the signal exchange molecules, but there will be other metabolites we are using – we want to lead that forefront.”

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,” ​she said.

Probiotics have the ability to generate molecules to disrupt those communications, she added.

Understanding, influencing the microbiome  

The company’s technology originally developed out of work being done on the signal molecules produced by probiotics and used by the microbiome, said McIver.

“It was a space that we know very well, that we understand, and it has a lot to do with the production of bacteria and fermentation systems,” ​she said. “It’s the signal molecules that they use and how they can really adjust population dynamics.”

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 change in 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 that they’re producing, rather than doing small population shifts with live cultures,”​ she added.

That understanding also may have relevance to how pathogenic bacteria spread, she said. “There are big disease shifts that occur through disruptions of that microbiome,” ​she added.

“What we’ll be looking at with these next-generation products is really understanding how the microbiome influences disease states in animals,”​ she said.

Some of the work MicroSintesis is doing with products for poultry is already looking at how to improve total flock health and shift disease states, she said.

“You could feed the probiotic to help protect and then at times of real challenge or concern you can use the metabolites to potentially change disease states,”​ she added.

The fermented, metabolite products currently available were designed to be used during high-stress periods – like weaning in piglets, said McIver. Adding, “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 7 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.

Shift to a global market

The first step moving forward is set to be expanding the company’s current products into the global market space and continuing to research and develop that product line, said McIver. Although the additive is water-based, at the moment, there is interest in making it an in-feed additive to make it easier for producers to use.

“We’ve already been working on the regulatory aspects of the global program, so we’ve begun to get registrations in specific key states in the US, for instance, and we’re working with regulatory partners for registration of these products in the European market,” ​she said. “We expect in 2020 to be hitting the market aggressively as we implement that strategy.”

MicroSintesis initially focused on the Canadian market to develop a foundation, establish quality control systems and better understand both how the product could be used and produced, she said.

“All these have to be developed if you’re not using standard bacteria counts you’re looking at measuring different types of activity,”​ she added.

The next step will be to develop new applications of the company’s current technology before expanding those uses to the global market, she said.  

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