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Probiotics for animals gets federal, P.E.I. funding for marketing

Monica Cella, an analytical research scientist with MicroSintesis, performs some colony forming unit testing at the company’s lab in the NRC building at UPEI on Tuesday.
Monica Cella, an analytical research scientist with MicroSintesis, performs some colony forming unit testing at the company’s lab in the NRC building at UPEI on Tuesday.

When it comes to probiotics, most people tend to think about eating yogurt and good bacteria to combat bad bacteria and balance the digestive system.

However, a company known as MicroSintesis Inc. has produced “an evolution” to that standard thought with a new class of probiotic products called proteobiotics.

On Tuesday, MicroSintesis, with a lab and staff in Charlottetown, received a repayable contribution of $366,341 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) as well as a $16,000 grant from the province through Innovation P.E.I. to help launch its products.

Hannah McIver, the company’s CEO, explained that disease-causing bacteria (or pathogens) enter a body in low concentrations and communicate with each other by releasing molecules (or signal exchanges) as they attempt to increase their concentration and overcome the host’s immune system.

If they reach this increased concentration, the pathogens cause infection and make you sick.

But proteobiotics create molecules that interfere with that signal exchange between pathogens and inhibits their ability to cause infection, McIver said.

This is significant for one of the products the company is launching – Nuvio – that reduces the need for antibiotics in pigs to fight infections. She explained that in piglets, the proteobiotics and molecules can help reduce the symptoms of diarrhea and stop the communication of bacteria. The other advantage is that the proteobiotics are effective in reducing the likelihood of an infection when bacteria are antibiotic resistant.

The funding from ACOA and the province will be used for business development and marketing the company’s new animal care probiotics.

“We’ll be able to effectively accelerate our launch,” McIver said. “We’ll be able to articulate clearly that message that there are alternatives for antibiotics (and) that they are clinically effective.”

The company plans to hire four or five additional staff in Charlottetown within the next six months.

The funding will also be used for rental space for research, development and manufacturing at the Bio Food Tech and the lab at the NRC building.

The company has another proteobiotics product – Igia – that works with companion animals, such as chickens and cows.

MicroSintesis is planning to launch the products in Canada and the U.S. within the next 12 months.

But given the products’ ability to reduce infection without antibiotics, MicroSintesis is looking at human applications in the future, said McIver.

“The company’s vision is very clear. We don’t believe that any child should have to die of diarrhea, especially in the 21st century. So, our target is to create products for the human market.”

terrence.mceachern@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/terry_mcn

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