Small molecule modulators of Avian Pathogenic E. coli (APEC) virulence as a means to control avian collibacillosis

Small molecules have been developed that have shown effective defense against Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC). These molecules can be used by itself, or with current antibiotics, which helps decrease the overall risk of bacterial antibiotic resistance.

The Need

Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) is one of the most common poultry diseases that is characterized by a series of extra intestinal infections that effect the visceral organs of the bird. The disease affects chickens, turkeys, and other avian species, and highly reduces egg production and weight gain, costing the global poultry industry millions of dollars each year. In addition, septicemia (blood poisoning) and airsacculitis (infection of chicken air sacks) stains the meat, rendering large parts of the entire bird useless for sale. In fact, those two symptoms alone costs 44 million dollars in the US broiler industry. APEC infections also result in increased mortality rates, up to 20%.

Current methods of eliminating APEC involves heavy reliance of antibiotics such as tetracylines, cephalosporins, or quinolones. While initially effective, APEC pathogens have shown a rising level of resistance to these antibiotics, increasing the virulence of APEC each year. This means that in order for farmers to maintain healthy chickens, they must increase the quantity of antibiotics used, or switch to a harsher and often times more expensive chemical. Thus, there needs to be an economically efficient strategy to prevent APEC in poultry, with minimal use of antibiotics.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University have identified seven small molecules (SM) that have shown promising and effective bactericidal activity against APEC pathogens, collectively known as avian colibacillosis. Small molecules are organic compounds with drug like properties that are effective against the pathogen, as well as pathogens that have already developed antibiotic immunity. This series of novel antimicrobials has the potential to reduce not only poultry infections from APEC pathogens but also reduce bacterial antimicrobial resistance.

Commercial Applications

  • Poultry Industry (Chickens, Turkeys, and other Avian Species)
  • Veterinary Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Benefits/ Advantages

  • Shown to be effective against the multiple different pathogen serotypes causing APEC
  • While certain pathogens may be resistant to current antibiotics, they show no resistance to SM’s.
  • These SM’s can also target pathogens from APEC biofilms.
  • Unlike most antibiotics, these SM’s can be used in mass applications on large scale farms due to low toxicity
  • These molecules can be put into feed or in water
  • SM's are on a broad based spectrum, which means they can defend against other pathogens too
  • Farmers can use these SM’s synergistically with antibiotics, to increase overall effectiveness while simultaneously reducing risk of microbial resistance

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