Lab Canada

Dow AgroSciences gains license rights from NRC to technology that fights food pathogens

Ottawa, ON December 3, 2003 Dow AgroSciences says it has obtained worldwide licensing rights from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to market technologies that reduce the risk of food-borne pathogens. The agreement gives the company exclusive rights to specific antibody technologies that are being developed under a 2001 collaborative agreement between Dow AgroSciences Canada (DAS) and NRC’s Institute for Biological Sciences (NRC-IBS) in Ottawa.

The company says the collaboration already has developed inventions that hold great promise in combating two of the most common and challenging food-related health threats, E coli O157:H7 in cattle and Campylobacter jejuni in poultry. These pathogens occur normally in the animals’ digestive systems and only become problematic when they find their way into the human food chain. Researchers at NRC-IBS and DAS have been developing new ways to attack these pathogens at the source, without the use of traditional antibiotics.

The collaboration has developed antibodies, which, when administered to the livestock, would attach to the pathogens within the animals’ bodies. This technology holds great promise to clear or greatly reduce the pathogen load prior to slaughter. The antibodies will be produced in plants, which could be administered either in the feed or extracted from the plant and administered orally.

The antibodies have significant advantages over antibiotic injections, says Dr Roger MacKenzie, the project’s senior researcher at NRC-IBS. “Chemical-based antibiotics attack more than the target organism, and their administration can result in unexpected and undesirable side effects,” he adds. “Our approach is to develop strategies to interfere with the organisms’ ability to flourish and multiply by targeting unique molecular features of the pathogens.”

The license agreement commits the partners to developing and commercializing these technologies along a track that will maximize the benefits of the new discoveries.