Mastitis treatment in the pipeline…without antibiotics

Antibiotic usage in the milking parlour is a necessary part and parcel of modern-day dairy farming; but is this set to change in the coming years?

In efforts to keep mastitis at bay and somatic cell count (SCC) under control, many farmers currently have to use antibiotic treatment on cows in the parlour.

As every dairy farmer knows, milk from cows treated with antibiotics must be withdrawn from sale for a period of time during and after treatment.

This can cause plenty of headaches for farmers – trying to ensure that milk from treated cows is kept separate from the main group – and as far from the bulk tank as possible.

Many a farmer has made an expensive mistake with such measures, with the pricey consequence of having to dump antibiotic-contaminated milk supplies.

And then, sometimes treatment doesn’t work and culling is the only option for infected cows.

In addition, such treatment is coming under increasing pressure on a global scale. The issue of antimicrobial resistance is becoming an increasingly concerning threat, with resistant bacteria rendering current treatments ineffective, according to a Galway-based firm which is currently examining alternative treatment.

Westway Health

As a result, Westway Health (WWH)  – a spin-out of NUI Galway – has spent the past six years developing a disruptive product for the treatment of mastitis in lactating cows.

While currently still in development, the Long Acting Reactive Species (LARS) technology implemented by WWH is “proving effective against all microorganisms tested” to-date, according to the Galway-based firm.

This non-antibiotic technology is effective at killing all bacteria – including antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA – while not inducing resistance, WWH claims.

This product, dubbed PanaMast LC, will “represent a change in the way that dairy farmers manage mastitis in lactating cows, which affects 30% of the herd annually”, according to the firm.

According to developers, PanaMast LC aims to:
  • Be the world’s first non-antibiotic medicine for bovine mastitis, offering “superior clinical outcomes and significant financial gains to end-users”;
  • Reduce milk wastage and the culling of cows; and
  • Improve profitability and environmental performance on European farms and dairy processing sites.

Having received financial backing from the EU’s Horizon 2020 in 2017 – worth €2.5 million in Phase 2 funding.

The ongoing H2020 project aims to bring the company’s lead product, PanaMast, to EU market launch at technology readiness level (TRL) 8 following the 24-month project.

The commercial launch of the product requires regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency – a lengthy process.

According to WWH, the firm aims to have its product on the shelf by 2021 or 2022.