Gates Foundation invests $5m in Bactolife to help prevent gut infections in humans and animals

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/PM Images
© GettyImages/PM Images

Related tags amr Zinc oxide post-weaning diarrhea piglets

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing to accelerate Bactolife’s objective of developing effective and affordable food and feed ingredients to combat some of the largest gut health issues worldwide.

Bactolife, a company active in the field of gut microbiome health targeting both the food and feed industries, this week, announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing US$5m to accelerate the development of its technology platform, Binding Protein, which is designed to circumvent and avoid antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Last year saw Novo Seeds, the early stage investment and company creation team of Novo Holdings, lead a €7m seed investment​ into Bactolife, alongside existing private investors.

Tackling AMR 

Founded in 2017, Bactolife’s technology is based on nanobodies for management of bacterial virulence without the use of antibiotics. The company said it is a proven, scalable, and highly cost competitive microbial manufacturing platform.

Anti-virulence products are of great interest to the AMR field – the company said they have the potential to reduce pathogenicity without creating a driver for antibiotic resistance.

Bactolife claims its technology can drastically lower use of antimicrobials in both humans and animals in a cost-effective manner, addressing the urgent need for alternative strategies for management of gastrointestinal infections that have a huge economic impact both in terms of productivity in animal production, and the burden of AMR on the health care system.

Its lead product Ablacto+ has shown efficacy in preventing post-weaning diarrhea (PWD) in piglets, according to the developer. “PWD is caused by E. coli infection and occurs as weaned piglets are not protected by antibodies found in the sow’s milk resulting in morbidity and mortality. If untreated it can lead to large economical losses in industrial pig production.”

Zinc oxide alternative 

In a collaborative project​, Bactolife said it is looking to develop an alternative to medicinal zinc oxide (ZnO), as pharmacological doses of that product have been banned for use in EU piglet production since June 2022 due to reports demonstrating zinc oxide’s contribution to environmental pollution and the rising level of AMR.

Although to date the EU is imposing the strictest regulations on ZnO in piglet production, other markets are also starting to reduce the levels of ZnO in piglet diets

That project is supported by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food (GUDP program) with partners; Novozymes, Technical University of Denmark, SEGES Danish Pig Research center, and Aarhus University.

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