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Superbug infections in poultry under the microscope

Researchers report promising results in the fight against superbug infections on poultry farms, which could have wider implication for human health.

Scientists from Aga Nanotech and CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock), supported by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), have been looking at sustainable solutions to replace the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.

Researchers report promising results in the fight against superbug infections on poultry farms, which could have wider implication for human health. Photo: Mark Pasveer
Researchers report promising results in the fight against superbug infections on poultry farms, which could have wider implication for human health. Photo: Mark Pasveer

The study, funded by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) fund, tested a novel technology which offers a safe, effective, and sustainable replacement for antibiotic use in poultry rearing. It is part of a wider project involving UK-based GAMA Healthcare and the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute to customise and trial innovative patented technology for use in poultry.

Dr Salvatore Galgano, lead scientist at SRUC, who was awarded the President’s prize for the best oral presentation after sharing the findings of the study at the World Poultry Science Association’s UK branch meeting, said: “The study demonstrated that this novel technology has the potential to be a substitute for antibiotics and could also enhance production.

It is an important step in the fight against superbug infections in animals and lays the foundations for further investigation into the role of this new technology in decreasing antibiotic resistance associated with animal husbandry.”

Adrian Fellows, CEO of Aga Nanotech, added: “We are excited by the early results which show real promise for the development of a new generation of feed additives with a remarkable range of benefits.

“There is still work to do and in part this will be conducted in cooperation with our project partners in China. However, this research has demonstrated a potential route to the safe, nutritionally beneficial, and environmentally responsible replacement of antibiotics in chicken rearing and possibly other monogastric animals.”

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Nikki Dalby, lead project manager at CIEL, added that the innovative approach offered clear veterinary and human health benefits. Further gains included improved food security, food integrity, and supply chain resilience.

“Over and above the potential it offers the poultry sector in China, this alternative technology could be extended to other livestock species and rolled out worldwide.”