Five patents for new poultry health products are coming out of the Poultry CRC’s research Program 2A: Discovery & development of poultry health products:

“Antimicrobial peptides”;
“Modulating production traits”;
“Novel toxin”; and
two other patents yet to be filed.

Antimicrobial peptides

CSIRO’s Sharon Bishop-Hurley has identified and patented a group of peptides that attack the micro-organism Campylobacter jejuni, a leading cause of food poisoning.

Peptides are amino acid molecules produced by an animal’s cells that bind to the surface of foreign bacteria to disrupt their functioning.

Sharon’s work at CSIRO’s Livestock Industries may lead to vaccines that could immunise chickens and prevent them from becoming infected with the micro-organism, or be used as a therapeutic to remove it from infected chickens before processing.

The peptides can also be used to detect the micro-organism in flocks or on processed chicken meat.

Reducing the amount of Campylobacter jejuni on chicken meat will reduce the risk of food poisoning from handling and eating raw and undercooked chicken.

Modulating production traits

Increasing the amount of meat and reducing the amount of fat in meat chickens may be possible through the use of a new patent to modulate production traits in chickens.

Tim Doran, also from CSIRO Livestock Industries, has patented a method to silence the expression of genes that tell the growing chicken to produce less muscle and more fat, without having to genetically modify the chicken itself.

For industry, this may lead to shorter growing times for birds and, consequently, the use of less feed to produce the same amount of meat.

“We are also interested in the potential of this technology to control other traits in the chicken, with the overall aim of improving the production and welfare of poultry,” explains Tim.

Novel toxin

Following the ground-breaking discovery that alpha-toxin is not the main causative factor for necrotic enteritis, by Poultry CRC PhD student, Anthony Keyburn, CSIRO researchers have patented ‘NetB’, the toxin they believe is the culprit.

The research team, under Rob Moore, has identified the novel toxin and conceived how it might be used to create the first truly effective vaccines.

These vaccines would target Clostridium perfringens, the micro-organism which produces the toxins in the chickens’ guts and causes the diarrhoeal disease necrotic enteritis.

For industry, this means that a devastating disease costing the global chicken meat industry more than $US2 billion each year may be finally defeated.