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Published on: Oct. 21, 2022, 8:20 p.m.
Proteon’s antibacterial solutions
  • Proteon’s mission is to eliminate unnecessary antibiotic usage in the poultry industry

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

The World Bank emphasises on funding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) initiatives as an important economic and health investment for countries, and India has already launched a National Action Plan that identifies the need for greater investments for AMR activities and to continue research and innovations in this space.

With this as a backdrop, Proteon Pharmaceutical India, a subsidiary of Proteon Pharmaceuticals SA Poland, is expanding its wings in the Indian subcontinent region to produce antibacterial solutions for livestock by 2024. A global leader in bacteriophage technology, Proteon Pharmaceuticals is looking to scale up its operations in South-East Asia, focusing on India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and neighbouring countries.

The company aims to improve the food safety standard of animal products by reducing the usage of antibiotics and AMR risk in poultry, dairy and aqua by providing innovative, safe and effective antibacterial bacteriophage cocktails.

“We are looking at setting up proper channel partners and an expansion of sales teams in the region by infusing techno-commercial members in the team in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asian markets,” says Nipun Gupta, CCO, Proteon Pharmaceuticals. The company is currently in talks to commence distribution in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“We will be reaching out to other neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and the Philippines, subject to collaboration with channel partners and product registration,” he says.

Moving from a mere backyard occupation in the hinterlands to robust commercial ventures closer to the cities, the Indian livestock industry has witnessed a major paradigm shift. Today, India is the world’s highest livestock owner at about 535.78 million and about 20.5 million people depend on the industry for their livelihood.

One of the fastest-growing markets in the agriculture sector, India is the third-largest egg producer and the fourth-largest chicken producer in the world, as per the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

However, the growth has brought with it a persistent public and environmental health challenge, requiring a multisectoral approach to address it. The overconsumption of antibiotics in livestock is leading to increased AMR, not only in animals but also in humans and the environment, making it a multifaceted global challenge, demanding an effective antibiotic alternative to control disease outbreaks.

Developing alternative

Bacteriophage is an alternative to antibiotics to control the pathogenic bacteria prevalent in the animal health industry without having a negative impact on the health of animals, birds and the environment for sustainable production. JS Uppal, Regional Business Director, Proteon Pharmaceuticals, adds: “Phage therapy mainly utilises lytic phages to kill their respective bacterial hosts and can be an attractive solution to combating the emergence of AMR in livestock. With an aim to provide an innovative antibacterial solution to the animal health industry, Proteon’s mission is to eliminate unnecessary antibiotic usage, reduce the risk of AMR and at the same time, increase the sustainability of protein production through reduction of waste and improvement of on-farm efficiency.”

Proteon’s products function by modulating the microbiome, enabling prophylactic health. The company owns a patented precision phage product development platform using genomics technologies, molecular biology, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence (AI) to create effective, reliable and safe antibacterial solutions for animal and human health. To fast-track the process, Proteon is working towards creating awareness among livestock producers, veterinarians, key opinion leaders and other stakeholders around its products.

“Switching over from a traditional medication method to a relatively new concept requires a change in mindset. This is the only challenge we see. We understand this and that’s why have been focusing on creating awareness about the product first, demonstrating the advantages and the ROI of using bacteriophages over the traditional existing medications,” says Gupta.

  • Gupta: Our products are not country-specific, but pathogenic-specific

    Gupta: Our products are not country-specific, but pathogenic-specific

Diseases caused by Salmonella and E coli are the major challenges faced by poultry producers. The infections caused by these bacteria not only impact poultry’s health but also the profitability of the producer and the human health.

“We have launched BAFASAL+G and BAFACOL for poultry to control Salmonella and E coli respectively. We have also introduced BAFADOR for Aqua to control Pseudomonas and Aeromonas, and very soon will be launching BAFACAM for dairy to control mastitis. There are also many other products in the pipeline to target the pathogenic bacteria prevalent in the poultry, dairy and aqua industry to enhance the profitability of the farm owners,” adds Gupta.

Proteon uses advanced technology for the identification and selection of bacteriophages. After a thorough screening process, only those phages are incorporated in the product which have lytic effect on the bacteria. “We always use a cocktail of bacteriophages which provides a broad spectrum of coverage against the different species of bacteria and that differentiates us from the competitors,” says Gupta.

“Our products are not country-specific, but pathogenic-specific as well. We have explored the challenges in the poultry, dairy and aqua industry and after an in-depth survey, have understood the challenges faced by the producers. To meet the need of the industry, we are working on different projects of bacteriophages for control of pathogens like clostridium, campylobacter for poultry, anti-mastitis product for dairy, anti-vibrio product for shrimps,” adds Gupta.

Lastly, with the rise of consumer demand for hygienic, safe, and antibiotic-free chicken, poultry producers are now looking for alternative solutions to antibiotics and are eager to adapt new technologies to improve farm production to increase their profitability.

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