Biotech startup Pando Nutrition announced it is "breaking the link between livestock and human superbugs" by designing a novel antibiotic alternative to use in animals.
According to the announcement, the Pando Nutrition team is using recombinant technology to engineer patent-pending probiotic yeast strains that improve animal well-being, support beneficial gut bacteria and improve digestion for sustainable animal health, without the use of antibiotics.
Pando Nutrition chief science officer Craig Rouskey said he believes that the key to averting antibiotic-resistant disease in humans is by tackling the sources of antibiotic resistance.
Targeted probiotics work differently from antibiotics, the company said, noting that it has developed "hundreds of strains in search of promising probiotics."
“We are literally feeding the animals strong and healthy probiotics that take up the space in the gut, where otherwise the pathogenic bacteria can grow,” Rouskey explained. “Using probiotics over antibiotics prevents the evolution of antibiotic-resistant microbes in animals, thus cutting them off from entering our environment and infecting humans.”
Pando Nutrition chief executive officer Doug Manofsky said the company's mission is to interrupt the progression of the antibiotic resistance crisis by moving to a living solution for gut health.
“Our fortified feed is designed to foster a diverse microbiome and naturally enhance the function of the animal’s digestive systems,” Manofsky said. “Yeast can be engineered to produce advanced bio-functional compounds that can have dramatic positive effects on animal wellness. By engineering a probiotic that secretes a high value enzyme, our healthy feed supplement is both effective and inexpensive to produce.”
Pando Nutrition noted that chicken farmers face a battle with necrotic enteritis caused by the pathogenic bacterium Clostridium perfringens, losing about $2 billion annually due to necrotic enteritis infections. Mortality of the disease can be as high as 50%, and spores of the causative organism are highly resistant to antibiotics.
Without antibiotics, poultry producers are beginning to see a resurgence of once manageable diseases like necrotic enteritis, Pando Nutrition said.
“So, we engineered a targeted probiotic which promotes a healthy microbiome. This solution improves the chickens’ gut, and we are seeing evidence of healthier animals with strong growth,” Manofsky said.
San Francisco, Cal.-based Pando Nutrition said it is currently negotiating a partnership with a multinational feed ingredients distributor to test, market and distribute the initial product. The company is also working to collaborate with a governmental department and another startup to co-develop further technologies, according to the announcement.