The use of antibiotics is
currently being reduced in animal production so alternative
methods are needed to combat bacterial diseases in food
animals and to control transmission to humans of the pathogens
responsible for foodborne illnesses. Potential alternatives
are few: Competitive Exclusion (CE) and Bacteriophage (phage)
Therapy represent two of the most promising alternatives.
Whilst there is one approved CE product on the market,
commercial use is limited due to very high costs of
production, highly restricted means of administration, and
Phages are specific in killing a
limited range of bacterial strains, as opposed to
antibiotics, and do not cause infections of animals or plants.
Replication of a lytic phage results in lysis and killing of
the host bacterium, increasing phage numbers considerably.
Research has identified phages which kill Salmonella,
Campylobacter, and other pathogenic bacteria, and
established rapid, simple methods for amplification of phages
to very large numbers. Recent work has shown phages to be
effective in removing contamination from poultry carcasses,
and also in killing pathogens in the intestinal tract of live
poultry and in eggs. Using this phenomenon to protect or
“cure” infected animals is the focus of ongoing
This project will focus on trials
in live poultry to evaluate the importance of the following
factors: phage choice and production (WPs 2, 4); route of
administration and timing of administration (WP5); quantity of
phages administered (WP5); modelling of the infection and
curing process (WP3).
The project will also consider
strategies to combat problems related to: development of
phage-resistant strains of pathogens in poultry and the
environment; destruction of phages by stomach acidity
following oral administration.