Coccidiosis is one of the most common and costly chicken diseases today. The infusion of functional proteins into corn kernels could help control the spread of the disease, says one expert.

Michael B. Lanahan, Ph.D., the chief commercial officer of Agrivida, previewed the technology at the 2019 Poultry Tech Summit, held November 20-22, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The company generated a candidate monocolonal single-domain antibody (sdAbs) called Interleuken 10 (IL-10). IL-10 codes for a gene that helps controls inflammation.

Corn grain can produce soluble, properly folded recombinant proteins. These proteins are extremely storage stable in grain and can be delivered deep into the gastrointestinal tract when introduced into the diet of poultry.

When expressed in corn, the proprietary antibody gene improved 20-day performance of Eimeria-challenged broilers. Most birds develop an immunity to the disease by three weeks of age.

“When a nutritionist looks at a kernel of corn, they see crude protein, fiber and starch. When I look at corn, I see the same corn composition, but I also see the opportunity to utilize antibodies and other molecules that can be delivered using corn,” Lanahan said.

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The antibody will be used as part of an integrated program against coccidiosis, Lanahan noted.

Current treatments for coccidiosis have limited effectiveness. The disease is caused by protozoa in the Eimeria family. Spread of the disease occurs quickly, typically in less than a week. Coccidiosis primarily affects young chickens and can affect egg production.

The research team is currently seeking funding and partnerships to further the development and commercialization of the IL-10 antibody to treat coccidiosis. In the future, they plan to expand the scope of their work in order to use the technology to treat other diseases and animals.

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