Antibiotics are essential tools for animal and human health and concerns over antibiotic resistance and their prudent use in animals have garnered global interest. Yet insufficient attention has been given to the scientific breakthroughs and novel technologies that provide alternatives to antibiotics. The objectives of this symposium is to highlight promising research results and novel technologies that provide alternatives to antibiotics, assess challenges associated with their commercialization and use, and provide actionable strategies to support their development.
Concerns over antibiotic resistance are driving policies to restrict the use of antibiotics on animal farms worldwide. The availability of medical interventions to prevent and control animal diseases on the farm will directly impact global food security, feed the future initiatives, and global health. This symposium is not intended to be a venue to eliminate the use of antibiotics in food animal production as there is a specific need for antibiotics to treat diseases. Nor is this a venue to advocate strategies that use new single-acting antibiotics as they too are predicted to eventually fail against documented pathogen adaptability and resistant strain development. Rather, strategies for treatment or prevention of diseases, as well as enhancement of production, that do not result in the creation of selection pressure favoring the development of antimicrobial resistance will be the preferred topic.
In view of the emerging global concerns with antibiotic resistance there is a pressing need to have a scientific forum to discuss alternatives to antibiotics in food-animal production. The global increase in antibiotic resistance among bacterial pathogens is believed due, in part, to the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed as growth promoters. Consequently, there is a growing concern that the potential development of antibiotic resistant strains within food animal production facilities and among food-borne bacteria could seriously compromise current medical interventions and public health. In some countries (European Union), the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) has been discontinued, and some Asian countries are planning to follow the EU to ban AGPs. Importantly, restrictions on the use of medicated feed are also being considered. Thus, continued reliance on antibiotics in animal production may result in new restrictions, including the international trade of food-animal products. The restriction of antibiotics is not limited to countries with intensive animal production system as these restrictions may also adversely affect the production of livestock and poultry in developing countries. There is also increasing scientific evidence that implicates certain antibiotics with disrupting the normal flora of the gut, yielding negative consequence on the innate immune system, disease resistance and health. As we move into the 21st Century and the demands for animal food products increase to meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population, alternative strategies to prevent and control animal diseases is a global issue and a critical component of efforts to alleviate poverty and world hunger.
The symposium will focus on the latest scientific breakthroughs and technologies that provide new options and alternative strategies for preventing and treating diseases of animals. Some of these new technologies have direct applications as medical interventions for human health, but the focus of the symposium is animal production, animal health, and food safety. The following five areas will be explored in detail through scientific presentations and expert panel discussions:
- Alternatives to antibiotics: lessons from nature
- Altering innate defense mechanisms to enhance disease resistance
- The gut microbiome and immune development, health and diseases
- Alternatives to antibiotics for use as growth promotants
- Regulatory pathways to enable the licensure of alternatives to antibiotics
Preferred Topics: The major issue to be addressed is novel biocontrol approaches for reducing bacterial pathogens (and where applicable viral and parasitic pathogens) in food animal production that employ strategies specifically geared to reduce or eliminate drug resistance development. These strategies include:
- Innate immune molecules with anti-microbial function (e.g. antimicrobial peptides, defensins)
- Bacteriophage, bacteriophage lysins, or other naturally occurring antibacterial lytic enzymes e.g. bacteriocins, that share an added ‘no resistance confidence factor’ by having co-evolved with their target hosts,
- Recombinant or hyperimmune therapeutic antibodies
- Pre- and probiotics
- Bioactive phytochemicals (herbal extracts and volatile oils)
- Other novel biotherapeutic alternatives in the pipeline and
- Demonstrated synergistic approaches that could both reduce costs and increase efficacy while reducing the risk of drug resistance development.
Other preferred topics will relate to developing novel methodology for evaluating bacterial growth inhibition from both in vitro testing and in vivo animal feeding trials to determine practical intervention approaches applicable to food-animal production, and the discovery and development of reliable biomarkers associated with animal well-being. We will also incorporate emerging topics related to gut health, such as the microbiome and its interactions with the gut immune system with potential clinical applications. This symposium will also highlight the emerging field and interest in treatments that demonstrate both antimicrobial and immune-enhancing capabilities.
Scientists, regulators, and industry representatives who have a stake in the success of animal agriculture and public health, need access to the latest scientific information and technologies, and want to interact with the current leaders in the field.