Akeso's non-antibiotic feed additive targets Campylobacter in Europe

By Joseph Harvey

Published: 06 June 2017 02:50 PM

US firm Akeso Biomedical hopes to begin its global campaign of tackling food-borne illnesses in Europe, where it has applied for approval of its pioneer feed additive in poultry.

The Waltham, Massachusetts-headquartered company has filed a dossier with the European Commission to market TYPLEX Chelate as a zootechnical feed additive for all avian species.

TYPLEX Chelate (ferric tyrosine) is an organic molecule designed to prevent pathogenic bacteria – such as Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella spp, E coli and Clostridium perfringens – from adhering to the intestinal lining of birds.

Akeso's chief operating officer Jerome Meier said the firm has conducted extensive work in the EU, in research laboratories, in pen-based feeding trials, and also in farm studies with UK-based Banham Poultry. These trials demonstrated that TYPLEX Chelate in broiler feeds results, not only in suppression of potential gut pathogens, but also in improved weight gain and feed efficiency.

He explained why the firm chose to focus initial efforts on the European market: "The current global consumer drive against Campylobacter is strongest in Europe, so we ran feeding trials in Scotland, Greece and Germany, supported with in vitro laboratory work in Finland and the UK. We're now starting in the US, where we are looking at typical US corn-based diets, compared to the predominantly wheat-based diets for broilers in Europe."

Should European approval be successful, TYPLEX Chelate will be Akeso's first commercial feed additive harnessing the proprietary broad-spectrum iron chelate chemistry, known as Fe3C.

Akeso was founded in 2014, to develop research from the University of Nottingham in the UK. The company's chief executive Dr Simon Williams – originally from the UK – engaged with Nottingham's researchers early in their search for a business partner to lead Fe3C technology to successful commercial launch.

The university was keen to tap into Dr Williams' experience of taking bioscience products to market, as he has done with his two previous companies. As a result, Akeso obtained exclusive licensing rights to all applications of Fe3C technology from the inventors. The primary targets are to improve intestinal health and nutrient absorption in a range of food-producing animals by reducing enteropathogens such as Campylobacter, Clostridium, E coli and Salmonella.

Benefits of Fe3C technology

As consumer and regulatory scrutiny heightens, many companies are seeking natural alternatives to antibiotics to support animal health. Mr Meier believes Akeso's Fe3C technology provides a unique mode of action that sets it apart from the field.

Mr Meier told Animal Pharm: "Antibiotics are very good at what they do, but they engender resistance and must be used sparingly to preserve efficacy for critical uses in human and veterinary medicine. There's another problem. Antibiotics don't distinguish between beneficial and undesirable bacteria. Fe3C specifically targets bad bacteria. I'm not aware of something that currently exists that does this."

"If you're having a party with 100 guests, you want the police to come along and take care of the three trouble-makers – not shut down the whole party.”

"As far as we can tell, our technology only impacts bad bacteria, but it doesn't kill them – it simply stops them from adhering to surfaces. Once bacteria attach to a surface such as the intestinal mucosa, they create biofilms, thus enabling colonisation, invasion and infectious disease. We stop them from attaching, so they stay in the gut contents (chyme) and are excreted. That's a very novel thing."

Mr Meier said that producers will almost certainly use Fe3C feed additives in conjunction with other novel products to provide solutions that improve the gut microbiome, especially the bacterial microflora.

Akeso's leadership team are currently travelling back and forth to Europe as the company gets closer to commercial launch of TYPLEX Chelate. Mr Meier said the company is "in discussions with global companies" regarding distribution and sales of its Fe3C feed additives.

In terms of R&D, broilers will be the initial focus of the Fe3C feed additive range. However, Mr Meier said Akeso is also conducting studies in piglets.

The company has received funding from private backers, venture capital firms and angel investors. In 2017, hedge fund manager Scott Roth joined the board of directors and is expected to secure the financial boost that will convert Akeso's commercial plans to reality.