A new treatment to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in poultry will be developed by researchers in the U.K. and China, according to an announcement from Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).
GAMA Healthcare — a U.K. company known for its infection control products in hospitals — is partnering with SRUC, the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute in China to customize and trial an innovative, patented technology for use in poultry, SRUC said.
The technology, held by Aga Nanotech — a sister company to GAMA Healthcare — couples a cancer medicine delivery system with reactive, short-lived antiseptic compounds.
Laboratory trials have already shown the loaded nanoparticles to be effective in treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the announcement said. The novel technology can be customized to meet the specific needs of the end user, delivering a toxic payload to bacteria present within the animal, and it can be produced cheaply and safely.
“Poultry meat is one of the most common sources of protein in the world and is consumed in all areas of the world, not just wealthy nations," AGA Nanotech research and development director Adrian Fellows noted. “This research project has great potential because we believe, if successful, we can deliver it at a price point where it can be used in both developed and developing nations.”
Trials are under way at the newly opened Allermuir Avian Innovation & Skills Center (AISC), the largest poultry research facility of its kind in the U.K. near Edinburgh, which was developed through SRUC and CIEL. Initial findings will subsequently be tested across several commercial poultry farms in China, SRUC said.
The use of antimicrobial treatments in agriculture is vital for protecting animal health and aiding the production of safe and nutritious food. However, overuse of antibiotics in the livestock sector has been implicated in the development of multi-drug-resistant bacteria.
The £1 million project is jointly funded by the U.K. Department of Health & Social Care’s AMR fund (managed through Innovate UK) and China’s Ministry of Science & Technology. The funding will enable the project team to identify nanoparticles possessing the correct biocide release rates for animal use and test the effectiveness of the technology in poultry, SRUC said.
“There are clear veterinary and human health benefits associated with the successful implementation of this alternative technology. Further gains include improved food security, food integrity and supply chain resilience, in turn leading to much wider economic benefits," CIEL lead project manager Nikki Dalby explained. “There is a definite market demand for alternatives to antibiotics that we believe this solution can meet, and we are really excited to be working with this group on such an interesting project.”
Dr. Jos Houdijk, SRUC professor of animal nutrition and health, said: “Evaluating novel additives to maintain and improve gut health under appropriate conditions is key for the successful implementation of alternatives for antibiotics and to address the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in animal production systems. In this U.K./China Innovate UK project, we aim to deliver this at our Allermuir AISC through a series of small-scale pilot and larger-scale near-market broiler studies, prior to field testing at large-scale poultry farms in China, with performance and microbiome measurements as key indicators to the success of the novel approach developed.”
The project runs until July 2021, and a successful completion could see the technology extended to other livestock species, SRUC noted.