Feed additive research will target E. coli infection in pigs

Scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Western University have teamed up with PlantForm Corporation to develop an edible antibody therapeutic that will protect human and animal health by preventing E.coli 0157 infection in pigs.

The $150,000, two-year project is supported by OMAFRA through the Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative, which is fed by the five-year, $3 billion commitment by federal-provincial-territorial governments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The project will use PlantForm’s tobacco plant-based vivoXPRESS platform to express therapeutic antibody fragments that will target E. coli. The plants will then be administered to pigs as a food additive.

Researchers involved in the project aim to show that antibodies in the plants will reduce E. coli infection and transmission by interaction with the animals’ natural defence symptoms. The ability for the pathogen to colonize the gut wall should be hindered, and result in preventing shedding of E. coli in feces.

“We’re very pleased to be involved in this exciting project that aims to solve a huge problem for the livestock and food processing industries: how can we remove E. coli and other foodborne pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter from the food chain without medical interventions that are often expensive and ineffective?” says Dr. Don Stewart, CEO of PlantForm.

The project stems from previous research by AAFC scientist Dr. Rima Menassa, aimed at developing veterinary vaccines and antibodies for E. coli and other pathogens, as alternatives antibiotic use.

PlantForm Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on rapid development and production of specialty antibody and protein drugs.

Stewart says that the approach provides an effective way to deliver therapies through feed additives that are minimally processed, inexpensive, and easy to produce and deliver on a large scale.

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