Targeted Bacterial Destruction
The biotech company Profos AG has secured worldwide and exclusive patent rights from the Institute of Food Research (IFR) in the UK and patented technology developed at the Institute for Microbiology of the Technical University Munich for the identification and destruction of gram-positive bacteria by bacteriophages and their derivative proteins. This further expands Profos´ intellectual property portfolio, which already includes patents for the detection and selective enrichment of bacteria using novel binding molecules extracted from bacteriophages.
Bacteriophages are the natural enemies of bacteria. They infiltrate specific bacterial cells and produce antimicrobial substances known as endolysins, which cause the cell walls to burst. With the death of a single bacterium hundreds of new and highly active bacteriophages are released and within hours billions of bacteria can be destroyed. Profos has applied these phenomena as the basis for the development of its own innovative products: selected and engineered bacteriophage proteins are used for the specific identification and capture of specific genera or species of bacteria and where required, their destruction.
The precautionary application of bacteriophage proteins against food poisoning is considered a very interesting market segment by Thomas Zander of Profos who comments: 'In Germany alone the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) receives reports of more than 150.000 cases annually. The estimated number of unreported cases is thought to be as much as ten to twenty times higher, with similar incidences occurring world wide. The cause of food poisoning lies in the contamination of food by pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter or E. coli O157.'
Routine testing on pathogenic bacteria is considered by Zander as a further high growth business development area for Profos: 'More than 85 million tests for pathogens in food were carried out worldwide in 2003. This market opportunity is now available to Profos - because of the acquired patents, we are able to develop extremely specific and rapid tests in order to reinforce consumer protection by enabling food processors to introduce phage protein specificity and sensitivity to their sample testing protocols.'
Another hot future market is in the area of phage therapeutics - where phage proteins can act as a kind of 'antibiotic'. Phages as 'antibiotics' has been successfully applied in the former Soviet Union for decades. British food and phage specialist Professor Mike Gasson from the Institute of Food Research (IFR) comments that: 'The demand for commercial alternatives to antibiotics is growing in response to the need to tackle bacterial resistance to conventional antibiotics. As well as providing a new tool to combat bacteria now, there is considerable interest in developing bacteriophage derived lysins to replace antibiotics for some applications in the future. Unlike most conventional antibiotics, this technology provides a precision weapon, designed to kill specific bacteria while leaving other beneficial micro organisms intact.'
Source : Profos AG View Company Information
Posted on April 26, 2004