Scottish researchers are embarking on a pioneering £1 million project to find alternatives to antibiotics for use in the poultry sector.
The project, which is being run at the Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre near Edinburgh, involves Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the UK’s livestock innovation centre, Ciel, Gama Healthcare, and the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute.
Researchers will trial technology which couples a cancer medicine delivery system with reactive, short-lived antiseptic compounds to create loaded nanoparticles which destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria in an animal.
The team will work to identify which nanoparticles are suited for animal use and test the effectiveness of the technology in poultry.
Findings from the Allermuir trials will then be tested on several commercial poultry farms in China.
“There are clear veterinary and human health benefits associated with the successful implementation of this alternative technology,” said lead project manager Nikki Dalby from Ciel.
“Further gains include improved food security, food integrity and supply chain resilience, in turn leading to much wider economic benefits.
“There is a definite market demand for alternatives to antibiotics that we believe this solution can meet and we are really excited to be working with this group on such an interesting project,” she added.
SRUC professor of animal nutrition and health Dr Jos Houdijk said the trials would assess the delivery of these loaded nanoparticles to chickens through both feed and water.
He added: “Evaluating novel additives to maintain and improve gut health under appropriate conditions is key for the successful implementation of alternatives for antibiotics and to address the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in animal production systems.”