AB Agri and Intralytix to explore use of bacteriophages in feed

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/iLexx
© GettyImages/iLexx

Related tags bacteriophage Broiler AB Agri Intralytix antimicrobials

UK animal feed, nutrition and technology firm, AB Agri, is collaborating with US biotech, Intralytix, to explore the use of bacteriophages in feed as an alternative to antibiotics and other drugs.

The new partnership follows AB Agri’s collaborative research project with the University of Leicester earlier this year, which centered around the delivery of bacteriophages in feed for broilers. That study indicated a low dose of bacteriophages reduced targeted pathogenic bacteria levels in chickens to below detection limits.

The tie-up between AB Agri and Intralytix is initially investigating the impact of bacteriophages on one particular pathogen, with the companies adding that there is potential for the alliance to eventually look at other targets and indications.

Bacteriophages can effectively kill targeted specific bacteria without affecting anything else, ensuring an unprecedented level of safety for an antimicrobial, noted Intralytix CEO, Dr Alexander Sulakvelidze.

Intralytix is working with several partners to develop bacteriophage-based products to control bacterial pathogens in environmental, food processing, and clinical settings. It will explore, in conjunction with AB Agri, which applications could benefit animal nutrition and agriculture more widely.

AB Agri’s innovation director, Dr Nell Masey O’Neill, said the partnership is at the development stage, with the teams currently researching the efficacy and safety of bacteriophages in animal nutrition. “By using naturally occurring bacteriophages we would be building on the existing mode of action in the gut, putting back what should already be present.”

In July, following the publication of the results of the research​ undertaken with the University of Leicester, a spokesperson for AB Agri told us: “There are significant hurdles to overcome before bacteriophage can be used in commercial feed, not least regulatory approval. No product of this type is currently registered in the EU or GB, either as a zootechnical feed additive or veterinary medicine product.”

DuPont also investing in phages

Other animal nutrition companies are also betting on phages as replacements for antimicrobials.

September 2020 saw DuPont Animal Nutrition team up​ with Polish phage pioneer, Proteon, with the idea of bringing bacteriophage technology to poultry producers in selected countries to help mitigate antimicrobial resistance.

Under the terms of that agreement, the phage developer would look after the research, production and bacteriophage side, while DuPont was charged with all the regulatory, sales and marketing aspects of the alliance.

Proteon has a manufacturing facility in Lodz, Poland. “It is well positioned to adapt its capacity according to market needs."​  

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