Natural products as alternatives to antibiotics
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem worldwide, leading to 25,000 deaths yearly in the EU alone, and enormous productivity losses in the veterinary field (ECDC/EMEA analysis). Currently, few novel antibiotics are under development, which asks for the development of alternative treatments. Nature offers numerous plants and plant compounds that have shown antimicrobial activity in vitro. In this project, Dopharma and HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (HU) cooperated in determining antimicrobial activity and the acceptance of a herbal extract by poultry.
The herbal extract will be further developed into an extract that can be used in infected animals, e.g. pigs suffering from infection with Streptococcus suis or chickens from Clostridium. Those bacteria are serious threats for animal and human health and are one of the main reasons for antibiotic use. As the use of antibiotics should be restricted to prevent development of resistance, there is a strong need for alternative agents. This project focusses on developing such an alternative and in this way impacts on prevention of healthcare as well as reducing the costs of healthcare which in the case of severe antimicrobial infections exceeds €1,5 billion in direct healthcare expenses and productivity losses (ECDC/EMEA analysis).
The herbs and herbal extract used in this project have shown potent antimicrobial activity in vitro, but that does not guarantee activity in vivo. In this project, we made an effort to develop a bacterial adhesion assay, in which herbal products could be tested for their inhibitory effect on adhesion of these bacteria to host cells, thereby decreasing bacterial infections. Simultaneously, an in vivo trial was performed which showed oral acceptance of the herbal extract and antimicrobial activity in poultry. Next, oral tolerance and efficacy of the herbal extract will be determined, after which the product could be prepared for market introduction.