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DuPont antibacterial protein partnership targets E.Coli first

By Rod Addy , 20-Sep-2012

DuPont Nutrition & Health aims to boost food safety, quality and shelf life by developing bactericidal proteins in partnership with US firm AvidBiotics Corporation.

AvidBiotics said the first fruits of the collaboration would be used to target a virulent strain of E.coli of particular concern to the food industry.

“Along with DuPont, we will continue to advance our most immediate product opportunity in food protection against E. coli 0157:H7,” said James Knighton, president and director of AvidBiotics.

The AvidBiotics Purocin antibacterial technology is based on R-type bacteriocins produced by some Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains for their own defense against other bacteria.

These proteins recognise target bacteria by binding to specific receptors on the bacterial surface, punching a hole in the cell envelope and killing it.

Can be developed against any pathogen

In theory, the bacteria can be developed against any pathogen or spoilage organism.

“A big advantage of the R-type bacteriocin technology for food applications is its specificity,” said Knighton. “Compared to antibiotics, which often kill beneficial and harmful bacteria alike, these proteins can be engineered to attack with precision.

“Just one protein can kill a targeted organism without affecting its neighbours, thus avoiding unintended collateral damage.”

Non-toxic and biodegradable

AvidBiotics also claims its research has shown the bactericidal proteins are non-toxic and biodegradable.

Under the terms of the agreement, which is backed by a DuPont Ventures equity investment, DuPont has gained exclusive worldwide rights to the technologies for food and food protection applications.

Fabienne Saadane-Oaks, leader of the Health & Protection division of DuPont Nutrition & Health, said: “Ensuring the safety, freshness and quality of products throughout shelf life is at the top of the food industry agenda, and we are excited at the prospect of broadening our food protection offering to help meet these challenges.”

Food security goals

He added that investing in the development of such technology fitted DuPont’s recent announced food security goals to improve the safety and quality of the global food supply.

AvidBiotics was founded in 2005 and develops novel, non-antibody proteins targeted at bacteria, viral infections and cancer.

DuPont Nutrition & Health offers a wide range of sustainable, bio-based ingredients and advanced microbial diagnostic solutions.

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