Proteon Pharmaceuticals S.A., a Polish biotechnology firm has signed an agreement with an international Investment Fund, the Aqua-Spark fund, which invests in sustainable aquaculture. Proteon Pharmaceuticals will use the funds to commercialize its products globally, develop production capacity and support the development of its bacteriophage-platform technology.
Proteon Pharmaceuticals is a world leader in the development of biotechnology products based on bacteriophages* . The products being developed by the company are an effective alternative to antibiotic treatment in the food animal industry, being cheaper, healthier and environmentally sustainable. The company’s new generation of natural antibacterial preparations protect the health of animals raised for food, i.e. fish, poultry and cattle, while contributing to the protection of the health of humans consuming fish, meat, eggs and dairy.
Due to the large-scale application of antibiotics worldwide – over two-thirds of which are used in the production of animal protein — bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimated that, already in 2009, infections caused by a subset of resistant bacteria are responsible for about 25 000 deaths in Europe annually. In addition to these avoidable deaths, healthcare costs and productivity losses have been estimated to be at least EUR 1.5 billion per annum. Furthermore, conservatively, at least 2 million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These figures along with even larger numbers in Asia and Africa makes antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today, according to the World Health Organization.
“Finding alternatives to antibiotics has been a company priority from the start – so, the strides Proteon Pharmaceuticals has made in understanding bacteriophages are truly a boon,” explains Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, cofounders of Aqua-Spark. “After years of being on the periphery, we’re just starting to unlock phages potential. Proteon Pharmaceuticals is transforming phages found in nature into commercial-grade products that target bacterial infections in a way that doesn’t create resistance.”
Aqua-Spark, is a pioneer investment fund focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture worldwide. The company invests in small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) which are working toward the sustainable production of aquatic life, such as fish, shellfish and plants. Thus far, Aqua-Spark has EUR 49,2 million under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable. The goal of the fund is to grow to EUR 1,5 billion AUM by 2025.
“We are very pleased to gain such an important investor as Aqua-Spark,” said Jarosław Dastych, CEO of Proteon Pharmaceuticals. “The fund has huge experience investing in companies developing state-of-the-art products and methods for achieving sustainable growth in the aquaculture sector. We are gratified with the recognition for our concept of developing a product based on bacteriophages. Our product for Aquaculture, BAFADOR®, fights two of the most common pathogens responsible for mortality in farmed fish. The investor particularly appreciated that BAFADOR® exploits the action of highly selective bacteriophages that attack only strictly defined pathogenic bacteria, and as a result our preparation does not disrupt the natural bacterial flora of the fish, and also stimulates defensive mechanisms and resistance in the studied species of fish.”
Matthew Tebeau, Management Board Member and COO of Proteon Pharmaceuticals, commented, “Aqua-Spark’s investment is sign of the growing awareness of the value bacteriophages as an important way of treating or preventing diseases in food animals. With the growth of antibiotic resistance as a global problem and the increasing demands on animal protein production worldwide, a natural and sustainable health solution, like our products based on bacteriophages, will increase farm efficiency and support food safety.”
MORE ABOUT AQUA-SPARK
Aqua-Spark is an investment fund with a focus on sustainable aquaculture businesses around the world. The small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in which they invest are working toward the sustainable production of aquatic life, such as fish, shellfish and plants. Aqua-Spark believes that committing to a long-term vision is the way to realize effective and lasting results.
Since 2015, the fund has made 15 investments in 10 complementary SMEs including:
- Sogn Aqua: A Norwegian fish farm with the potential to change the way red-listed Atlantic Halibut is farmed.
- Calysta (3 investments): A biotechnology company that is transforming fish feed–making it healthier and more environmentally sound.
- eFishery: A crucial technology for monitoring fish feed with the power to revolutionize commercial aquaculture.
- Chicoa Fish Farms (2 investments): A fish farm that offers a vertically integrated solution to the freshwater aquaculture industry in Mozambique.
- Matorka: a landbased, geothermal Arctic Charr farm in Iceland.
- Indian Ocean Trepang: An innovative sea cucumber farming operation in Madagascar.
- Love The Wild: A US-based company that produces sustainable, delicious ready to prepare seafood kits.
- Protix: A highly technological and data driven insect producer.
- Proteon: a leader in natural, safe and environmentally sustainable phage-platform technology, an alternative to antibiotics.
- Cryoocyte: A cryopreservation service for fish eggs.
Thus far, Aqua-Spark has EUR 49,2 million under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable. The goal of the fund is to grow to EUR 1,5 billion AUM by 2025.
MORE ABOUT PROTEON PHARMACEUTICALS
Proteon Pharmaceuticals S.A. is a Polish biotech company that is one of the world’s leading firms using bacteriophages* on an industrial scale. The company has developed and produces a new generation of natural antibacterial preparations for protecting the health of animals raised for food, i.e. poultry, cattle and fish, thus contributing to protection of the health of humans consuming fish, meat, eggs and dairy. Proteon Pharmaceuticals’ products are used as a cheaper, healthier and more effective alternative to antibiotic treatment.
Proteon Pharmaceuticals has solutions at its disposal that are unique on a global scale, ranging from development of bacteriophage products, via identification and conducting scientific research in its own R&D centre, through to commercial testing of solutions, industrial-scale production, marketing, sales and distribution.
The company’s products protect livestock against pathogenic bacteria. BAFASAL® is used in poultry farming to prevent infections caused by Salmonella bacteria and BAFADOR® is used at fisheries to battle the two most common pathogens responsible for fish mortality. The company is also working additional products for the poultry and aquaculture industries as well as products for the treatment of pigs and cattle. The company also provides microbiological services including farm diagnostics, monitoring and veterinary auto-vaccines.
A substantial amount of Proteon Pharmaceuticals’ research has been supported by grants co-funded by the European Union. In 2016 alone the company was awarded grants of about PLN 13.5 million in the EU’s Smart Growth Operational Programme 2014–2020.
*Natural organisms attacking disease-causing bacteria
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