USDA's Agricultural Research Service and US Biologic announced recently that their researchers had developed an oral solution to fight the parasitic disease poultry coccidiosis.

Poultry coccidiosis, which develops in the bird’s intestinal tract and then is spread via infected feces or tissue, costs the poultry industry $3.5 billion annually. 

A study on the oral solution, which was published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, found infected chickens treated with the solution experienced less weight loss than birds that went untreated. Beyond the lessened weight loss, treated birds had improved gut health, carried less infectious bacteria, and experienced large reductions in the spread of the disease. The solution contains cNK-2, which is a natural lytic peptide that fights the parasite.

The oral product is mixed into probiotic powder and fed to the birds through their current feeding processes. The product can work across the animals’ lifetimes without requiring modifications.

When fed solely probiotics, the infected birds experienced no improvements. This indicates that the oral solution is the ingredient responsible for lessening the disease’s effects on the birds.

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The oral solution has been patented by the USDA-ARS and US Biologic. US Biologic also signed an exclusive global commercialization agreement intended to allow for the development and licensing of the oral solution for industry use.

Funding for this project came from both USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, via the Small Business Innovation Research Program, and from USDA-ARS.

“Poultry solutions must be practical and economical. Oral delivery of the cNK-2 accomplishes both goals and can lead to increased global protein sustainability and food equity,” said US Biologic chief science officer Jolieke G. van Oosterwijk.

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