PERSPECTIVES: Can Mycotoxin Adsorption Be Pushed Further? Biochem Says Yes, Launching New Product
22 January 2020 – In recent times, much progress has been made in raising awareness of the costs mycotoxins are imposing on the industry, and a variety of both inorganic and organic substances have been employed to try and mitigate them. However, these have only gotten us so far; while existing products are able to cope with some types of mycotoxins, others such as DON remain difficult to combat with our current strategies.
Strengthened by their 15 years of experience in the mycotoxins sector, Biochem Zusatzstoffe Handels– und Produktionsges. mbH is now prepared to take the fight against mycotoxins a step further with B.I.O.Tox® Activ8, a new toxin binder with an extended adsorption profile and with natural detoxifiers. Ahead of the product’s launch in Europe this month, Feedinfo caught up with Dr. Heiko Greimann, Biochem’s Managing Director, and Maik Hinrichs, R&D Manager, to understand what makes this product so uniquely innovative.
Unprecedented adsorption capacity
According to Dr. Greimann, one of the most remarkable features of B.I.O.Tox® Activ8 is its extended adsorption profile, which includes the ability to bind deoxynivalenol (DON), a notoriously difficult mycotoxin to adsorb.
As he explains, Biochem’s approach to mycotoxins is built around adsorbents, ingredients which can irreversibly bind the mycotoxins in the digestive tract of the animals, as the optimal way to neutralize mycotoxins in animals. “Biochem mainly uses adsorbents because these are fast-acting and have very good properties for the further processing of feed. Compared to other mycotoxin management solutions based around specific microorganisms or enzymes, adsorbents are heat stable, insensitive to pressure, and stable over long periods in storage.”
However, adsorbents also have their disadvantages: while different clay minerals offer decent adsorption capacity towards aflatoxin B1, Dr. Greimann asserts that their adsorption of other mycotoxins are “insufficient.” This was the limitation that Biochem set out to overcome with the technology it refers to as “activated adsorbents.”
In short, an activated adsorbent has been processed in order to make it “stickier,” or more likely to bind permanently to the mycotoxins it comes into contact with. “In this context, activation refers to the physical and/or chemical treatment of surfaces; a mechanical or thermal processing of the raw materials leads to a surface enlargement and to an optimized pore mesh or to an optimized pore size distribution, so that it has the correct size for the adsorption of the different mycotoxins,” Dr. Greimann says. “Since the interaction between mycotoxin and surface is electrostatic in nature, another crucial parameter is charge density: the amount of charge in relation to the surface piece.”
This may sound simple. However, it is in fact the product of a long process of trial and error to find the exact effect of each new treatment on the adsorbent’s binding capacity. “These optimizations cannot be determined theoretically,” he claims. “Hence, after each ‘working step,’ an empirical examination is necessary.” Thus, what seems to be an incremental improvement in adsorption capacity is actually the result of Biochem’s intensive study and process improvement. “Rigorous testing of these activated raw materials have occupied the company for years.”
Natural support for tissues on the front lines
Of course, a perfect, failure-proof mycotoxin solution remains elusive. Realistically speaking, there will always be some amount of mycotoxins in feed; soil conditions, humidity, storage, and an increasingly warming world will all conspire to promote fungal growth. Moreover, even with a toxin binder whose physiochemical properties have been boosted, adsorption has mechanistic limits, Maik Hinrichs, R&D Manager at Biochem acknowledges. “It can be assumed that a small amount of mycotoxin is absorbed by the animal and thus enters the animal’s bloodstream.”
It is therefore prudent to plan accordingly. This is where the second novelty of B.I.O.Tox Activ8 comes into play. The new product includes phytogenic additives including polyphenols and Silybum marianum, intended to support tissues that bear the brunt of exposure to mycotoxins. The first of these is the gut epithelium. “This important barrier to unwelcome substances like endotoxins may suffer extremely from the cytotoxic effects of mycotoxins. The result may be a leaky gut, which leads to even more toxin adsorption and the appearance of other secondary, pathological disorders like endotoxin associated diseases,” Mr. Hinrichs says.
Another important recipient of the product’s phytogenic support is the liver. “The liver carries out the main task when it comes to the metabolic detoxification of mycotoxins. In this process, highly reactive oxygen species (so-called oxygen radicals) are formed. These highly reactive intermediates can react with proteins or lipids and damage them permanently,” Mr. Hinrichs recounts. “One important feature of the phytogenic additives (e.g. polyphenols) in B.I.O.Tox® Activ8 is to react with the radicals and neutralize them. Due to their special chemical and electrical structure, these substances are also known as radical scavengers and membrane protectors.”
Tailored solution for particular needs
This latest addition to the Biochem stable of brands reflects the company’s philosophy in mycotoxin management: letting market needs drive increased specialization. “Our toxin binders portfolio has expanded as the market has developed new requirements based on evolutions in areas such as genetics (the spread of highly prolific animals), climatic changes, or special legal requirements (for example, limits on heavy metals in mineral supplements),” Dr. Greimann observes.
Thus over the last 15 years, the company’s portfolio has evolved from the original “all-purpose” mycotoxin binder B.I.O.Tox® (still a potent and very successful product today, according to Dr. Greimann) and into more specific products for particular indications. Today, this includes B.I.O.Tox® Z, with a strong focus on zearalenone to prevent fertility disorders in breeding and parent animals; Mybind, an organic mycotoxin binder for organic farming; and B.I.O.Tox® Farm, which allow farmers in the EU to make their own mixtures on their farms in accordance with EU regulations. Alongside these products, Biochem also offers a number of mycotoxin analysis solutions, organized under its MycService brand. These include the MycService Test Kit, a rapid quantititative lateral flow test that customers can use themselves to have results in only a few minutes. For more sophisticated testing needs, the company has a Multi-Mycotoxin Analysis service, based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), where users can order analysis for a set of common mycotoxins or test for more advanced toxins and metabolites. Finally, Biochem also proposes a service to compare the efficacy of a customer’s mycotoxin binder against its in-house standard by measuring the amounts of adsorbed vs desorbed mycotoxins after a specific mycotoxin binder is applied.
Now, armed with a new product which is reliably able to bind fusarium toxins like deoxynivalenol (and which can support the animal’s organism and boost protective and detoxifying processes), the company plans to focus on bringing this first to home markets in the EU, followed in 2021-2022 by Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, and South America, depending on the length of time that registration in each country requires.
And beyond that? “Our intention is to offer problem-oriented, efficient solutions, and we will continue to innovate and develop products to meet the increasing demand for mycotoxin risk management solutions,” promises Dr. Greimann. “Moreover, given that mycotoxins and endotoxins have synergistic effects concerning their ability to impair animal health and biological performance, we are looking into developing corresponding counter-strategies against endotoxins.