Antibacterial enzymes can mitigate poultry pathogens

The enzyme product can help maintain a healthy flock, inhibit Clostridium perfringens and reduce the use of antibiotics in poultry feed.

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Kane Miller, Ph.D., Axitan CEO and founder
Kane Miller, Ph.D., Axitan CEO and founder

A dried powder feed additive that combines antibacterial enzymes, known as endolysins, and a unique strain of microalgae could target Clostridium perfringens, the bacteria that causes necrotic enteritis in poultry.

This product could help poultry producers manage the condition, which has been historically managed through antibiotic supplementations in animal feed, and prevent antibiotic resistance, explained Kane Miller, Ph.D., Axitan CEO and founder, at the 2023 Poultry Tech Summit.

Specifically, Miller said the additive is beneficial to companies that produce poultry under no antibiotics ever (NAE) or no antibiotics important to human medicine (NAIHM) standards.

Endolysins are unique in the specificity of their targeting and work by bonding to the cell wall of the targeted pathogen. This quickly weakens the cell wall and causes the cell to burst and safely disintegrate.

Miller said Axitan has seen positive results in challenge studies using the endolysins, compared to the antibiotic control, with significant drops in mortality, improvements in feed conversion ratios and favorable weight gains.

For future research, Axitan is looking into targeting additional poultry pathogens and is investigating the use of endolysins in swine and aquaculture.

How the product is applied

The endolysins are delivered to the feed mill as a dried powder and mixed as a standard feed additive. They are only incorporated in starter and grower feed and have a six-month shelf life. Additionally, Miller said they do not cause changes to the taste, texture or aroma of the poultry meat.

To create the product, Axitan isolates and tests the endolysins using recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology. Then, the endolysins are expressed and hosted in the microalgae platform and manufactured using fermentation technology.

Axitan identifies the endolysins that are best suited for targeting specific pathogens and formulates them to deliver specific benefits, said Miller. The microalgae platform contains lipids and essential fatty acids, proteins, chlorophyll, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals and polysaccharides.

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