ARDEN BIOTECHNOLOGY has won more than £500k in grant funding to develop a bacteriophage solution to control enterococcus cecorum.
The bacteria is present in healthy poultry but can cause disease, primarily in broilers, which typically requires antibiotic treatment.
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Arden Biotechnology is developing a natural, non-antibiotic product that it hopes to add to feed rations and keep the pathogen under control.
This latest research is an evolution of successful trials of a bacteriophage designed to tackle clostridium perfringens and consequent necrotic enteritis in poultry.
Arden Biotech, based at Lincoln Science & Innovation Park, is working with poultry integrator Avara Foods on the research, which has been awarded £514k in funding from Innovate UK.
Joseph Brown, research director at Arden Biotechnology, said: “The bacteria we are looking to control is naturally present in healthy chickens, but in some cases, the bacteria get to where they normally aren’t and form cyst-like growths within the spine resulting in paralysis.
“This paralysis means the birds can’t feed or drink and unfortunately die from dehydration or starvation unless there is an intervention.
“Previously antibiotics, now largely banned from the food chain, kept this avian pathogen – Enterococcus cecorum – under control.”
Dr Brown added that the solution they were researching could reduce feed use, food waste and improve bird welfare.