Folium Science Uses CRISPR To Remove Antibiotics In Livestock


Donald Marvin, Contributor, Forbes†

Jun 11, 2019


CRISPR technology continues to make international headlines for its potential as a gene-editing tool, but it has other world-changing applications. Scientists at Folium Science are using it to trick the harmful bacteria in the guts of chickens and hogs into destroying themselves. When fully commercialized, Folium Scienceís new technology could eliminate or reduce the need for antibiotic use in the raising of farm animals.


That's a good thing. Fighting diseases in poultry, hogs and other farm animals with standard-issue antibiotics is only marginally successful these days due to antimicrobial resistance. More importantly, most consumers don't like the idea that antibiotic residues could end up in their food.


Ed Fuchs is the CEO and founder of Folium Science. His career includes executive positions at Aryzta AG, the publicly traded Swiss food company, and Verkade, the venerable Dutch company, where he led adoption of the first fully traceable sustainable palm oil and introduced fair trade chocolate in Europe for the Verkade brand.


His U.K.-based biotech company, which was founded in 2015, has developed a patented technology called Guided Biotics, which uses natural enzymes to selectively remove unwanted bacteria from an animal's gut by "turning the animal's natural defense system against itself."


Folium is one of nine global startups chosen by Alltech, the global feed supply innovator, for its exclusive Pearse Lyons Accelerator program. The company's technology and business plan were showcased at the 35th annual ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference held in mid-May in Lexington, Kentucky.


According to Fuchs, antibiotic resistance in livestock has risen by 300% over the last 20 years. Fuchs says that only 50% of Salmonella commonly found in poultry can be successfully treated with traditional drugs.


So, it's no wonder that Folium has chosen to focus its first product on eradicating Salmonella from the poultry microbiome. Three recent independent in-vivo studies have conclusively proved that Foliumís technology dramatically reduces Salmonella bacteria in poultry. Next, it will be used to address common unwanted bacteria in pigs, cattle and aquaculture. Fuchs also envisions the development of treatment sprays and biocides for bacterial blights in fruit, vegetable and other staple food crops.


"Bacteria have this amazing defense system, which people know as CRISPR. It is better known as a gene-editing tool, but in nature it is the bacterium's actual defense system. We trick it into redirecting its defenses on itself to selectively digest targeted strains of harmful bacteria and remove them from the animal's microbiome," Fuchs told me...