April 16, 2018
Completing the antibiotic alternative portfolio: Kemin
"We believe that the industry should stop the irresponsible use of antibiotics, meaning their use as a growth promoter at sub-therapeutic levels. Coming from my background in Big Pharma, I understand the real risk of antibiotic resistance," said Dr. Francesca Blasco, R&D director Kemin Animal Nutrition and Health, Asia Pacific, in an interview with eFeedLink.
Recognising this risk posed by using antibiotics as growth promoters, Kemin believes that there are six technologies which are the best alternatives to antibiotics, and has developed a product portfolio around them.
One recent product introduced was AletaTM, an algae-based immunomodulator product for livestock and Aquaculture, which forms the "innate immune support" part of Kemin's portfolio of antibiotic alternatives
Aleta prompts the animal's immune system, enabling it to better cope with stress or pathogens.
The active ingredient in Aleta is beta 1,3 glucan. Readers may also be aware of beta-glucan derived from yeast. In comparison, Aleta offers a number of advantages. One, the content of beta-glucan in Aleta is relatively higher, at least by 50%. Second, the beta-glucan in Aleta is readily available to the animal, compared to yeast where the cell wall needs to be first digested to release the beta-glucan. Third, the specific form of beta-glucan in Aleta, beta 1,3 glucan, is linear in structure and better recognised by the immune cell receptors of the animal, compared to other forms of beta-glucan found in yeast. In other words, Aleta enables the animal to have a more effective immune response.
eFeedLink understands that there are a number of yeast-based products in the market which claim to offer additional benefits from other yeast metabolites, beside beta-glucan.
Dr. Blasco was quick to stress: "We are very clear about Aleta's positioning as an immunomodulator. It is also worthwhile to note that some other yeast metabolites offered, such as carotenoids and amino acids, are already present in most feed formulations."
Aleta is currently available for livestock, aquatic species and companion animals, Dr. Blasco says Kemin also believes in the potential of Aleta for calves and shrimp. "We believe that Aleta works best in young animals where the immune system is not yet fully developed. After they are born, the level of maternal antibodies in young animals naturally goes down, posing the risk of disease spreading. In this regard, we believe there is big potential for Aleta as immunomodulator to protect those animals till their own immune system or immunization through vaccination are fully effective.
Shrimp, especially young shrimp, has a rudimentary immune system which needs constant stimulation to work. We are working with one of the key opinion leaders in the field to generate more data in this regard," Dr. Blasco said.
Another recent product introduced for poultry is COZANTETM, a natural anticoccidial product. According to Dr. Blasco, research for this product started long back in 2010, and it took five years to identify the polyphenolic compound and establish its efficacy as an anticoccidial.
"If you look at it, the last anti-coccidial drug was discovered at least 20 years ago. Due to the development of resistant strains over the years, and rising consumer demand for safe, wholesome meat, there is an increasing demand for new anticoccidials. Cross-resistance to a new anticoccidial should ideally be avoided, which can only happen if a different mechanism of action is used by the product.
With COZANTE being encapsulated using Kemin's unique MicroPEARL™ technology, this product could be seen as a "double innovation", where both the new anticoccidial and its delivery system into the gut are innovative," explained Dr. Blasco.
With Aleta being the latest product to add to the fifth and penultimate part of Kemin's antibiotic alternative portfolio, which part remains?
"For prebiotics, we think we might have found a promising candidate to complete the picture. We have also looked at oligosaccharides, but have not found something which fits our portfolio," revealed Dr. Blasco.
And work for Kemin does not end at completing its antibiotic alternative portfolio. It is instead an ongoing journey whereby Kemin accompanies its customers to overcome evolving production challenges (see previous article "R&D with a customer focus: Kemin").
Dr. Blasco cites the example of CLOSTATTM, a well-established probiotic which also falls within Kemin's antibiotic alternative portfolio. For the case of necrotic enteritis in poultry, Kemin develops a test kit in partnership with its customers to detect and quantify the levels of disease-causing Clostridium perfringens. Based on the level of contamination, Kemin would then recommend either one of two modes of administration of CLOSTAT - mixed with feed, or mixed with drinking water, the latter being necessary for a higher level of contamination. Kemin would then recommend an appropriate dose regimen.
"Kemin is unique in that there are not many companies where R&D staffs go out to meet customers to understand the real issues which they face. In addition, we regularly organise roadshows, such as our Antibiotic Alternatives (ABA) Roadshows, and conduct workshops where we fly customers to our Singapore office. Understanding that the transition to an 'antibiotic-alternative' environment is often a complex challenge, particularly in Asia, our focus is on educating our customers. In this regard, we constantly engage key opinion leaders in various markets to educate them independently. Farmers also share their experiences with one another," concluded Dr. Blasco.
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This article is featured in the April issue of LIVESTOCK and FEED Business.