As the animal nutrition industry continues its drive to reduce the use of antibiotics, bacteriophages (often referred to simply as “phages”) have emerged as an interesting alternative to help keep the threat of bacterial disease in check.
Bacteriophages can be thought of as highly specialised microscopic predators of pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium. In many ways, that specialisation is an advantage – it means that phages will not damage the host animals’ cells, or friendly members of its gut microbiome.
However, it also requires constant vigilance to ensure that the targeted pathogens, which are constantly evolving, are still susceptible to the phages being deployed against them. In today’s Industry Perspectives piece, we speak with Young Kang, product manager at Pathway Intermediates, about the “real-time upgrade system” which is in place to ensure that their phage portfolio, ProBe-Bac, retains its edge against the diseases seen in the field.
[Feedinfo] Your ProBe-Bac system is based on a real-time upgrade system powered by Optipharm. Can you start by explaining who Optipharm is and how the collaboration with Pathway Intermediates works?
[Young Kang] Optipharm, an affiliate of Pathway Intermediates, is a leading company in the field of animal diagnosis and biomedical research. Optipharm holds the largest market share in South Korea's veterinary diagnosis sector and delivers veterinary solutions and diagnostic services as well as conducts research in diverse industry fields. The company secures a variety of bacteriophages obtained from nature and verifies the selected bacteriophages through pathology, serology, genetics, microbiology, and efficacy evaluation. This stringent verification process ensures that only the most promising bacteriophages are selected.
Pathway Intermediates, as a crucial collaborator, takes on the responsibility of disseminating these meticulously chosen bacteriophages on a global scale. The company contributes to the partnership by providing valuable insight into the general global landscape of pathogenic bacteria trends and pointing out the way products evolve.
The seamless collaboration between Pathway Intermediates and Optipharm leverages the strengths of both companies, combining Optipharm's bacteriophage validation and research expertise with Pathway Intermediates' experience in the global marketplace. The result is a potent synergy that drives the continuous enhancement of the ProBe-Bac portfolio.
[Feedinfo] One example of your bacterial monitoring programmes in action is your work in the Philippines this year, where you tested the efficacy of your products against water samples from swine and poultry farms. What can you tell us about this project, and what you learned from it?
[Young Kang] Our bacterial monitoring project has two purposes. The first aim is to show to customers that there are pathogenic bacteria that threaten animal health and performance which can be observed even on farms where antibiotics or antibiotic alternative have been deployed. The second is to directly prove that our product works against the pathogenic bacteria seen in the field. Customers are keen to have these results and are inspired by them. This project started recently and so far, ProBe-Bac has shown excellent efficacy against every isolated pathogenic bacteria from various countries.
One example of these principles in action is the project in the Philippines this year. The customer wanted to see how ProBe-Bac works locally. We secured two samples from swine and poultry farm and went over Salmonella, E. coli, and Clostridium perfringens. It turns out there were Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Albany, and non-pathogenic E. coli in these samples. ProBe-Bac showed 100% antibacterial activity against isolated Salmonella serotypes from the Philippines. In other words, our phages remained effective against the pathogens in the field, and no changes in the composition or dosage of the product were in order. We are planning to expand this project to every country where ProBe-Bac is sold.
[Feedinfo] What does it mean to talk about “real-time upgrades” to ProBe-Bac SE or PE? How often are these products updated? Can you share an example of the last time such an upgrade was rolled out, and what prompted it?
[Young Kang] Pathogenic bacteria, like all living organisms, are constantly evolving. To cope with this ever-changing threat, ProBe-Bac upgrades its bacteriophage portfolio by adding to or changing its bacteriophages to include strains which are more effective against the currently trending bacteria. At the beginning of 2023, ProBe-Bac was upgraded to cover a broader coverage of pathogenic bacteria. Every quarter, ProBe-Bac goes over an internal inspection to verify the suitability of the bacteriophage portfolio against the trending bacteria. If there is room for improvement, we upgrade ProBe-Bac and deliver this upgraded product with the best efficacy to our customers.
[Feedinfo] How does Pathway’s distribution network ensure that the most recent and effective versions of your phages are reaching the market?
[Young Kang] Pathway Intermediates ensures the timely and effective distribution of our latest bacteriophage versions to the market through a robust global network. With a wide customer base spanning Asia, America, and Europe, our distribution network plays a pivotal role in the real-time upgrade of ProBe-Bac.
Our diverse clients, situated in countries worldwide and actively grappling with bacterial disease challenges, serve as our frontline partners. Through their rigorous testing and validation of ProBe-Bac for their specific issues, we gain invaluable insights into the product's efficacy and identify areas for improvement. This collaborative approach enables us to address any shortcomings promptly and comprehensively.
Confidence in our ability to deliver the most up-to-date phage solutions globally is rooted in our distribution network's ability to facilitate real-time upgrades. By staying closely attuned to the evolving needs and experiences of our customers, we ensure that the latest and most effective versions of our phage products reach the market swiftly and seamlessly.
[Feedinfo] Pathway Intermediates prides itself on being a research-dedicated, science-driven company. How should we expect to see your bacterial monitoring programme, phage portfolio, or other aspects of your animal nutrition offering develop going forward?
[Young Kang] Through the real-time upgrade system, our phage portfolio is getting richer and richer. Our ongoing bacterial monitoring program is a pivotal component of this evolution. By studying and understanding livestock species' unique microbiomes and disease, we are able to refine and optimize bacteriophage combinations. Probe-Bac will undergo increasingly sophisticated upgrades. These upgrades will solidify its role as the ultimate solution for pathogenic bacteria suppression, gradually replacing the conventional use of antibiotics.
Published in association with Pathway Intermediates