Westway Health (WWH) was established in 2012 in Galway, Ireland, to commercialise a breakthrough antimicrobial technology developed in NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. Now based in NUIG’s Business Innovation Centre, WWH’s lead product in development is PanaMast™ LC, a disruptive product for the treatment of mastitis in lactating cows; with a further product, PanaMast™ DC, for the treatment of dry cows in the company product pipeline, collectively a billion-euro market.
The company has specifically focused on the treatment and prevention of bovine mastitis (an infection of the udder) which is a major health and economic issue, costing the dairy industry in the EU and US over €3 billion a year. Conventional antibiotics are currently used to treat mastitis; however, this solution has poor treatment outcomes, leading to the culling of cows and lost milk revenues, as milk from cows treated with antibiotics must be withdrawn from sale for a period of time during and after treatment. PanaMast™ LC aims to become the world’s first non-antibiotic solution, meaning farmers can potentially continue to sell milk during and following treatment. As up to 80% of dairy cows exhibit some signs of mastitic infection at some stage each year, this will have a major impact on the bottom line of farmers and milk producers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. The growing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now described as a ‘ticking time bomb’. This could return healthcare to a pre-antibiotic era, where common infections can become fatal. WWH’s innovative approach has been to find an alternative to antibiotics. As Dr Ruairi Friel, CEO, expands “The genesis of the idea was knowing that there are other ways to kill bacteria like MRSA. This is done every day around the world using disinfectants for example, or through steam cleaning. What we have been able to develop is a new method of killing bacteria that does not harm living tissue. Our solution is based on a combination of compounds inspired by nature, and if we can develop and scale our solution we believe we can help tackle this global challenge of antibiotic-resistance.”
The LARS technology developed by WWH is proving effective against all microorganisms tested (including antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA), in vivo trials have been very encouraging, and the feedback from farmers has been positive. In addition, the novel antimicrobial technologies have a range of applications beyond animal health, including human health and environmental sterilisation.
In 2013, the company won the Intertrade Ireland Seedcorn Competition, and in 2017, WWH secured a €2.5 million Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, Phase 2 funding. The latter which is the major focus of the company’s current research for 24 months – this grant will essentially bring the PanaMastTM LC technology to the point of commercial launch in the EU.
The world is facing an antibiotics crisis, with resistant bacteria rendering current treatments ineffective. A novel, effective solutions are urgently required for this €30 billion global market. WWH has developed an innovative, non-antibiotic technology, effective at killing all bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA, while not inducing resistance. PanaMast™ LC will represent a change in the way that dairy farmers manage mastitis in lactating cows, which affects 30% of the herd annually.
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
- Improve profitability and environmental performance on European farms and dairy processing sites.
The ongoing H2020 SME 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 (EMA), such a process requires the compilation of a product regulatory dossier detailing the PanaMast™ under Quality, Safety Residues and Efficacy. These themes form the basis of several work packages (WPs) in the project and will result in a product launch and commercialisation of PanaMast™. A schematic of the project and the product development outline is shown.
“This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 767456”