£1.1m win to tackle AMR in Poultry

CIEL has supported a UK-China consortium secure vital funding to develop a new non-antibiotic antimicrobial treatment that could control the spread and development of antibiotic resistant pathogens in poultry.

UK company GAMA Healthcare, best known for their infection control products in hospitals, are partnering with CIEL, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); and Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute to customise and trial innovative patented technology for use in poultry.

The technology, held by Aga Nanotech – a new subsidiary of GAMA Healthcare, couples a cancer medicine delivery system (nanoparticles) with reactive, short-lived antiseptic compounds.

Laboratory trials have already shown the loaded nanoparticles to be effective in treating antibiotic resistant bacteria. The novel technology can be customised to meet the specific needs of the end-user, delivering a toxic payload to bacteria present within the animal, and can be produced cheaply & safely.

Early trials are being carried out in the Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre near Edinburgh, the UK’s largest research facility of its kind, developed by SRUC and CIEL. Initial findings will subsequently be trialled across several commercial poultry farms in China. 

The use of antimicrobial treatments in agriculture is vital in protecting animal health and aiding the production of safe and nutritious food. However, overuse of antibiotics in the livestock sector is attributed to the rise in MDR bacteria, constituting a significant threat to broader animal and public health. This is especially a problem in China where antibiotics are still used for growth promotion in livestock.

The project is being funded by 489,339 GBP from the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s AMR fund, managed through Innovate UK, and 4,880,000 CNY from China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. The funding will enable the project team to characterise nanoparticles possessing correct biocide release rates for animal use and test effectiveness of the technology in poultry.

CIEL’s Nikki Dalby, lead project manager, said: “There are clear veterinary and human health benefits associated with successful implementation of this alternative technology. Further gains include improved food security, food integrity and supply chain resilience, in turn leading to much wider economic benefits.

“There is a clear market demand for alternatives to antibiotics that we believe this solution can meet and we are really excited to be working with this group on such an interesting project.”

Running until 2021, successful completion of the project could see the technology extended to other livestock species.