Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency has recognised the potential of FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics ™ by supporting Emerging and Enabling Technology call to control bacterial biofilms.
In partnership with the University of East Anglia and the John Innes Centre (JIC), a 12 month Innovate UK funded research project commencing in April 2018 seeks to develop a treatment spray for use on fresh fruit and vegetable crops. Using FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics ™ technology, the aim is to disrupt and prevent the formation of Pseudomonas biofilms on plant surfaces.
Pseudomonas is significant for bioscience R&D due to its widespread occurrence and resilience. Not only does it lead to crop spoilage in agricultural production, it causes contamination in food processing and is responsible for approximately 10% of all hospital acquired infections. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Pseudomonas syringae have been identified as the primary targets for the project.
Most bacteria exist in biofilm communities. By sticking together as a community in a gel-like structure, bacteria within a biofilm can be up to 1000 times more resistant to antibiotics than if they existed independently,making them significantly more difficult to remove or control. Pseudomonas biofilms are particularly prevalent and will readily colonise on contact with surfaces.
Current control methods of bacterial biofilms include chemical treatment, labour intensive physical removal or disposal of contaminated equipment. However, there is currently no universal prevention and treatment method for combating bacterial biofilms. This creates significant bioscience R&D and commercial opportunities that this project seeks to address.
FOLIUM Science has developed unique and patented technology in the form of Guided Biotics ™. Guided Biotics ™ selectively remove unwanted bacteria by harnessing enzymes in bacteria as a topical spray. In this project,FOLIUM Science and JIC will expand the research and investigate the potential for Guided Biotics ™ to combat Pseudomonas biofilms in fruit and vegetable production. The work will also explore the options for manufacture and commercial scale up of the Guided Biotics ™ treatment.
Spoilage and bacterial contamination of fruit and vegetable crops are currently addressed by heat treatment of seeds or treating with copper and zinc. The impact of this project and the development of a treatment spray will offer an estimated saving of £40m to the UK fruit and vegetable industry. The global value of agricultural antibacterial products is £8bn p.a. and is forecast to grow to £10bn p.a. by 2022.
FOLIUM Science CEO Ed Fuchs says “Whilst this Innovate UK project will focus specifically on a treatment spray for fruit and vegetable crops, the longer-term aim is to use our Guided Biotics ™ technology to develop an effective spray-on treatment for the prevention and disruption of bacterial biofilms across the food supply chain. Not only will this provide a more cost effective and convenient solution, but it will reduce the use of anti-biotics and contribute to the fight against anti-microbial resistance”.
The project represents a new collaboration between FOLIUMScience and the John Innes Centre. The combination of FOLIUM Science’s unique Guided Biotics ™ technology alongside JIC’s extensive knowledge and state-of-the-art facilities will result in substantial benefits to the food industry. Both parties anticipate further collaborative R&D beyond the scope of this project.