In 2012, some 1,450 tonnes of antibiotics were used, through feed, water and as injectable products, to prevent disease and improve performance in all livestock species across Canada. Globally, more than 63,000 tonnes were used that year, ten times more than those used in human medicine. The use of antibiotics for productivity enhancement has come under pressure from both the scientific community as well as consumer groups. Scaling back the use of antibiotics in farm animals could reduce the development of drug-resistant microbes.
Dr. Adrian Tsang and his colleagues at Concordia University have developed infrastructure and knowledge to support the development of genomics-enabled technologies that provide this alternative. Now he is partnering with Elanco, the third-largest animal health company in the world and the current market leader in antibiotic feed additives, to develop lysozymes (part of the innate immune system of animals) to be used as feed additives. These naturally occurring proteins, when fed to food animals, can help improve gut health and productivity. Dr. Tsang will use genomics to develop lysozymes, which Elanco will then evaluate in various food animal species for gut health and economic response. Elanco will also manage the registration and manufacturing processes required to bring the lysozyme-enriched feed to market.
The developed lysozyme formulations are expected to displace the use of antibiotics in food animal production. The resulting improvements in health and productivity would reduce production costs, leading to lower food costs for consumers, while reducing risks to public health.