Recent studies have confirmed the potential of a product named OxBC for use as a non-antibiotic, non-hormonal promoter of growth and feed conversion efficiency in farm animals.
Canadian Biotech company Chemaphor has made significant progress in the development of their first product for non-pharmaceutical applications based on the oxidised carotenoid platform.
A pilot study carried out in young pigs by Dr Daniel Hurnik of the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island first demonstrated that a low amount of OxBC added to regular swine feed promotes growth of the animals and improves conversion of feed into body mass.
A subsequent collaborative study carried out under commercial conditions by major industrial companies in the animal health and feed supply businesses has shown OxBC provides statistically significant improvements in growth and feed conversion efficiency also in poultry.
In these studies OxBC was used at low levels in non-medicated diets, yet provided growth and feed conversion results comparable to antibiotic growth promoters. The OxBC growth and feed conversion capabilities could be used in addition to antibiotics or as an alternative to antibiotics currently used mainly for growth promotion.
Carotenoids are a family of approximately 600 highly-coloured compounds that are widely distributed throughout nature. These compounds are all highly susceptible to oxidation. In the oxidation process, the parent molecules are destroyed and a very large number of new compounds are formed. With the exception of just a few of these oxidation products, and vitamin A in particular, the biological functions of these products are unknown and have yet to be uncovered.
Chemaphor says that many, if not most, of the biological activities of carotenoids flow from one of more of their oxidation products, and not from the parent compound itself. OxBC comprises a mixture of oxidation products obtained directly via the spontaneous oxidation of beta-carotene and represents a cross-section of the spectrum of the numerous carotenoid oxidation products that occur naturally in the plant world.
The company is currently negotiating with major international and Canadian potential industrial partners to reach a business agreement to commercialise OxBC in the US, Canada and Europe as a non-antibiotic and non-hormonal feed additive for livestock.