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Novel '-omics' technologies, nutrition key to reducing antibiotics in farm animals

NGS technologies offer insights into antibiotic resistance, and focus on prevention provides successful way to reduce antibiotic use in farm animals.

As consumer demand and regulatory scrutiny further restrict the use of antibiotics in farm animals worldwide, a new understanding enabled by gene sequencing-based technologies and a new approach to animal rearing will be crucial, according to an announcement from BIOMIN.

“The resistance of bacteria against antibiotics is a growing worldwide concern in the field of animal husbandry and, more importantly, in human medicine,” BIOMIN Research Center scientist Dr. Mahdi Ghanbari said.

Industry practitioners face a set of challenges when it comes to maintaining high-performing, healthy and profitable animals while at the same time using fewer or no antibiotics, BIOMIN said.

“Nutrition has a crucial function in animal performance as well as in the maintenance of optimal animal health and welfare status. Specialty feed ingredients used in feed and pet food are pivotal contributors to ensuring adequate nutrition and optimal animal welfare,” noted Joerg Seifert of FEFANA, the European Union Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients & their Mixtures.

The effects of novel feed additives — such as growth promotion, nutrient quality preservation, mycotoxin mitigation and pathogen prevention — contribute to a preventive approach that reduces the need for antimicrobials, according to BIOMIN.

“A holistic, 360-degree approach to antibiotic reduction based on prevention involves looking at the entire set of factors that can contribute to animal health and performance, including management, nutrition, biosecurity, hygiene and health,” explained Nataliya Roth, development scientist at BIOMIN.

“Maintaining animals in optimal health contributes to the prevention of veterinary treatments and connected antibiotic use in livestock production,” Seifert added.

'-Omics' technologies

The rapid advancement of gene sequencing technologies recently has made it possible to investigate a number of related questions regarding antibiotics, such as the prevalence and transmission of antibiotic resistance as well as the mode of action of antibiotics and feed additives, BIOMIN explained.

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) allows for the analysis of the genome as well as the transcriptome — the expression of all genes — at a given biological moment.

“Novel methods to study antibiotic resistance genes have been developed, enhanced by emerging [NGS] technologies,” Ghanbari said.

“It is important to understand the cellular mode of action of AGPs [antibiotic growth promoters] in order to develop suitable alternatives and optimize animal nutrition,” BIOMIN Research Center scientist Dr. Bertrand Grenier added.

“By using RNA sequencing, we have confirmed that, beyond their antimicrobial effect, AGPs interact with the host tissue and modulate the anti-inflammatory response. A more sustainable method of growth promotion would, for example, modulate the same anti-inflammatory response without contributing to antibiotic resistance,” Grenier added.

According to BIOMIN, several categories of novel feed additives can play a role in an antibiotic growth promoter-free or antibiotic-free feeding program.

“BIOMIN scientists and researchers have evaluated the effects of organic acids-based products, phytogenics and synbiotics on antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes in recent years,” Roth explained.

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