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POULTRY

Polish biotech co Proteon pioneers new approach to healthy chicken growth
Friday, 12 July, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
The rising demand for meat and eggs, and a resultant turn towards intensive poultry production, has in recent decades, given rise to a number of health and environmental concerns that pose a challenge to the poultry industry.

Bacterial disease causes huge economic losses, while resulting in environmental waste and a threat to human health. The solution lies in innovation to promote safe and sustainable animal farming.

It is estimated that Campylobacter and Salmonella infections that are rampant in poultry together account for nine in 10 reported cases of bacteria-related food poisonings globally. Moreover, the excessive use of veterinary drugs, feed additives and anti-microbials that are currently used to treat animals and prevent diseases can have major long-term implications on human health and the environment.

As one of the largest producers of poultry and eggs, India has also faced concerns over the safety of its chicken stock and eggs. #IndiaForHealthyChicken is a powerful initiative that promotes the need for cultivating healthy birds for the larger good of human beings and the environment.

To address the challenges emanating from current farming practices, Proteon Pharmaceuticals, a Poland-based innovative biotechnology company, has pioneered a revolutionary new approach to support healthy growth of chicken and other livestock. The new approach provides a sustainable tool for bacterial disease prevention. It also supports healthier poultry birds with improved performance.

Jaroslaw Dastych, founder and chief executive officer, Proteon Pharmaceuticals, is a leading scientist, an author of over 40 international publications and a co-author of four biotechnology-related patents.

His research interests range from immunology, toxicology and molecular biology to the development of novel diagnostic tools and bacteriophage-based or related treatment of disease.

Dastych was in Mumbai recently to discuss his revolutionary approach to breeding healthy poultry birds and the widespread benefits it will have on human and environmental health.

The revolutionary new approach to bacterial control uses naturally-occurring microorganisms bacteriophages to eliminate pathogenic bacteria without causing any harm to the microbiome or gut flora of the birds. By promoting health growth of birds, this significantly reduces the need for use of antibiotics.

“Bacteriophages (a.k.a. phages) are microorganisms that are a natural element of our environment. Phages are everywhere, i.e. on human hands, skin, in the animal gut and in the soil. They are the oldest and most numerous organisms on Earth – and have been protecting humans and animals from bacteria for the last 3.5 billion years,” Dastych said.

“Because lytic phages eliminate only their selected bacteria (they are unable to interact with animal or human cells), they are completely safe to birds or humans and they eliminate the bacteria without any damage to the microbiome, whose diversity is crucial for efficient feed conversion and immunity,” he added.

Proteon’s innovation has been possible thanks to the development of an advanced phage-technology platform. The platform uses precision biology, genomics, bioinformatics and molecular biology to identify, test and select appropriate bacteriophages.

Using artificial intelligence, the technology then selects phages that can be developed for industrial production, which are then delivered to the industrial farming environment in the form of feed additives.

“The word bacteriophage actually means bacteria eater. These phages destroy their host cells through a natural process without interacting with human or animal cells. Neither do they contaminate the soil or the waters, nor do they leave residue in the meat,” said Bhushan Bhavsar, managing director, Vetphage Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd.

“This makes them environmentally sustainable and healthy as well. Because they do not damage the microbiome, they help support growing naturally more healthy animals, which require fewer artificial and/or damaging solutions to prevent bacterial contamination,” he added.

Vetphage Pharmaceuticals is a subsidiary company of Proteon Pharmaceuticals SA. Vetphage handles all operations for the APAC region. As its managing director, Bhavsar is leading the movement #IndiaForHealthyChicken from the front.

The products containing a cocktail of bacteriophage are 100 per cent natural and biodegradable. They are used as feed additives for poultry and aquaculture, while the company is developing further solutions for pig and cattle farming. They help to reduce pathogenic bacteria without side effects, without leaving any residue and without creating antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

India is the third-largest egg producer in the world after China and the USA and the fourth-largest chicken producer in the world after China, Brazil and the USA. In India, the per capita consumption of eggs has gone up from 30 eggs per annum to 68 eggs per annum, and that of chicken from 400g per annum, to 2.5kg per annum between 2012 and 2017.
 
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