Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge 2018

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Bacteriophage chicken feed additive as alternative to antibiotics

Cytophage Technologies Inc. has developed a non-antibiotic chicken feed additive that prevents and treats Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli bacterial infections in chickens.  Bacteriophage are viruses that solely and specifically target bacterial cells. Our synthetic bacteriophage cocktail is tailor-made to address these common infections in poultry farms. Our solution aims to reverse the trend of further increasing the use of antibiotics in livestock farming and subsequent global increase in antimicrobial resistance to these antibiotics.

Describe the problem your company wishes to solve and how your product or service will solve it

The Problem

Antibiotics are valuable tools for reducing animal disease and suffering due to bacterial infections, but decisions regarding proper use of antibiotics with food animals must be made with consideration to their potential impact on human health. Poultry farmers use antibiotics for four main reasons: to treat, control, and prevent diseases, and to increase productivity (feeding and growth).

Any use of antibiotics can lead to resistance. However, when animals are given antibiotics for growth promotion or increased feed efficiency, bacteria are exposed to low doses of these drugs over a long period of time. This type of exposure to antibiotics leads to the survival and growth of resistant bacteria.

All animals carry bacteria in their intestines. Giving antibiotics to animals will kill many bacteria, but resistant bacteria will survive and multiply. When food animals are slaughtered and processed, these resistant bacteria can contaminate the meat or other animal products. These bacteria can also get into the environment through animal stool and may spread to agricultural produce that is irrigated with contaminated water.

Scientists around the world have provided strong evidence that antibiotic use in food animals can lead to resistant infections in humans. Studies have shown that:


  • Antibiotic use in food animals allows antibiotic-resistant bacteria to grow and crowd out the bacteria that do respond to antibiotics;
  • Resistant bacteria can contaminate food from the animals; and
  • Resistant bacteria in food can cause infections in humans (

This has resulted in an increased number of farmers raising livestock without antibiotics.  This trend has seen increased growth as both governments and consumers are demanding this action and more companies are complying. For example, Canada has strict regulations with respect to antibiotic use and withdrawal times to ensure that chicken reaching the marketplace does not contain antibiotic residues.  The Chicken Farmers of Canada developed an antimicrobial use (AMU) strategy.  The biggest step in the strategy to date was the elimination of Category I antibiotics throughout the chicken sector. Category I antibiotics are those considered most important to human health, and as of May 15, 2014, their preventive use was no longer permitted in the Canadian chicken sector.  In May 2017, Chicken Farmers of Canada announced that the chicken sector would be eliminating the preventative use of Category II antibiotics by the end of 2018 and that a goal has been set to eliminate the preventive use of Category III antibiotics by the end of 2020.

Consumers are also affecting the move away from antibiotic use in livestock.  Growing evidence on the impact of antibiotics found in food on human antibiotic resistance has been made available (and often purposely promoted) to the public. Further, the market demand for antibiotic free livestock has become a competitive advantage for suppliers to food retailers and restaurants, allowing some suppliers to charge a premium for their product.  Continuing the chicken example, food chains committing to providing antibiotic-free chicken for their customers include Chick-fil-A, Papa John's, A&W, Wendy's, KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut (

A key element of an antibiotic reduction strategy is researching and determining the availability of alternative products.  This creates the opportunity for Cytophage Technologies to create and sell bacteriophage to the livestock industry, starting with broiler chickens.

The Cytophage Solution

Cytophage Technologies Inc. has developed a non-antibiotic chicken feed additive that prevents and treats Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli bacterial infections in chickens. Our template technology creates tailor-made combinations of natural and genetically modified bacteriophage that can bind, target and destroy to multiple bacterial organisms found in animals. 

Infecting bacteria with bacteriophage presents an alternative approach to treating bacterial infections with antibiotics. Bacteriophage are the natural killers of bacteria.  The viral genetic material (DNA or RNA) contained within the bacteriophage is injected into the host cell, where produces thousands of copies of itself, leading to the rupture of the cell wall and subsequent bacterial death. Bacteriophage are effective in finding the specific bacterial cells to infect and are capable of overcoming cellular or organism-level defenses. While bacteriophage can be isolated from the environment in which a particular bacterium grows, it is often like finding a needle in a haystack – it is difficult to do.  An alternative to this system is to design, not find bacteriophage. 

The Cytophage Advantage is to synthetically make bacteriophage.Cytophage can address virtually any bacterial infection as there is no search in nature for the “needle in the haystack” phage that would counter a specific bacterium – the company can tailor-make phages to suit the target bacteria.  The key characteristics of Cytophage bacteriophage are:

·         Safe – Cytophage bacteriophage are non-corrosive, non-toxic. They do not affect helpful bacteria, animal or human cells. There is no food chain effect, as with antibiotics.

·         Designed, not discovered in nature – The Cytophage template technology is applicable to any bacterial infection.

·         Competitive cost structure – lower costs than producing antibiotics

·         Superior efficacy – Cytophage bacteriophage take into account the potential for mutation/adaptation of target bacteria resulting in superior kill rates and no resistance.  They also prevent biofilm formation.

·         Versatile – There is the potential to design Cytophage bacteriophage for any bacterial problem.  These bacteriophage have application in human health (personalized medicine, disinfectants), animal health (livestock feed) and food safety(cleansing of produce).

The Impact

Our bacteriophage is tailored to prevent specific bacterial infections affecting chickens, replacing the antibiotic(s) commonly used and resulting in antibiotic-free chickens – a commercial benefit in today’s marketplace.

Our bacteriophage contribute to reducing the growing number of antibiotic-resistant infections that occur as bacteria mutate and evolve due to constant exposure to traditional antibiotics.

Further, our bacteriophage enables the elimination of antibiotic-resistant bacteria without the need for increasingly toxic antibiotics or harmful or irritating chemical-exposure to animals.

Describe other business assistance that you are seeking from Nutreco

·         Access to/feedback from Nutreco experts and scientists to enrich and strengthen your innovation

·         Fundraising assistance

·         Launch assistance

·         Manufacturing assistance from an agricultural/farm base of companies  

·         Regulatory guidance

Are you available to participate in the final event in the Netherlands 28, 29, and 30 May? All expenses will be covered by Nutreco


Describe how the prize - a validation trial in our facilities - could boost the development of your business

The validation trial in Nutreco’s facilities would provide the scientific evidence for launching our first product line – bacteriophage that can be added to chicken feed as prophylaxis treatment for common bacterial infections.  It would expose our product to other companies interested in partnering with Cytophage to commercialize our bacteriophage and give our company global exposure to the feed industry. It would allow us to potentially expand the application of our technology to other areas of animal health, human health and food safety.  


If you already have a website for your business, please share the URL

edited on Mar 30, 2018 by Steven Theriault

teresa debesa 4 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

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David Peggs 4 months ago

Hi Steven,
Thanks for the submission: I think there is a real potential of bacteriophage therapies to be used as alternatives to antibiotic treatments.
You mention that your product takes into account the potential for target bacteria to mutate/adapt. Can you elaborate a little about this? How do you test for this? Is it possible to predict adaptation/mutations based on in vitro modelling?

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teresa debesa 4 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

Reply 0

Albert Friesen 4 months ago

Vote in favour of bacteriophage chicken feed project

Reply 0

teresa debesa 4 months ago

Status label added: Full business case submitted

Reply 0

Khalil Safaei 4 months ago

Good luck!

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Atsushi Tsuji 2 months ago

Are there any regulations on using bacteriophage for live animals, particularly for food?

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