Artificial Intelligence and antibiotics

Artificial intelligence (AI), already highly controversial but unstoppable, could also be used in the future to develop antibiotics.

It is now almost 50 years since the last branch of the quinolone family of antibiotics was discovered (e.g. Baytril), starting with penicillin in 1928.

Afterwards, no new antibiotic came along. In fact, it is so expensive to develop that the pharmaceutical industry has abandoned it because there is no revenue model.

New medicines

It takes 12 to 14 years to discover and market a new drug. It is not only a long and costly process, but also financially risky because there is no guarantee of success. Understandably, if a new antibiotic were to be "developed", the government could either strictly limit its use to prevent resistance, or allow its mass use, which would again raise the spectre of resistance. Either way, the return on investment is uncertain in both cases.

Reducing the luck involved in searching for molecules and replacing it with a reasoned model based on artificial intelligence would greatly increase the probability of finding a molecule and significantly reduce development time and costs.

Mortality compared to resistant bacteria

Of course, it will not happen that quickly, and it will not be an immediate disaster for pathogenic bacteria. However, the estimated 33,000 Europeans who die each year from infections caused by resistant bacteria need to be addressed urgently. By 2050, this figure could rise to 10 million victims a year!

It is not immediately wise for us fanciers to pin all our hopes on the assumption that we will be able to develop new antibiotics again in the future. 

As described in previous blogs, there is also the problem of antibiotic residues in the ecosystem, especially in the (surface) water of rivers, lakes and oceans. This leads to the emergence of resistant bacteria on a large scale.

The solution for sports veterinary medicine is not the massive use of more new antibiotics in the future, but the much more subtle use of prebiotics and probiotics. 


Comed also uses non-live para-probiotics in its formulas, i.e. fragments of live probiotics, which are also very useful in natural protection through an optimally functioning immune system.

A recent study showed a marked difference between poultry (chicks) given antibiotics (quinolones = Baytril) and those given probiotics in the first days of life (*).

Passive or humoral immunity

Chicks treated with enrofloxacin had significantly lower levels of antibody IgY transferred from the mother to the chicks via the egg yolk in their plasma.
(Baytril)-treated chicks,
indicating a reduction in the passive or humoral immunity of these chicks (present in the blood and in the fluids between the tissues).

The mother has built up this immunity from contact with pathogens in her environment (which will initially be the same as that of the chick) and then passes it on to the chick via the egg yolk to protect it during the first 2 weeks.

E.g. herpes virus is lethal to young pigeons without this passive immunity from the mother). As soon as the young birds hatch, they will no longer be able to absorb these immunoglobulins through their digestive tract.

Active- or cellular immunity

Active or cellular immunity, on the other hand, is acquired through the early contact of specific body cells (such as macrophages, derived from white blood cells) with the pathogens, which they can then recognise and respond to when infected.

This study shows many overlapping influences of pro- and antibiotics on the immune system, with the final conclusion that quinolone administration clearly reduces the first immunity acquired through the yolk. These findings suggest that, among other things, a gap in immunity may be involved in the development of young pigeon disease (***).

• It is not advisable to intervene with (blind) antibiotic treatments (especially not as a preventive measure).  The fact is that colonising the gut with good bacteria (probiotics) to drive out the bad bacteria is the right strategy.

• On the other hand, quinolones have also been shown to have certain advantages in controlling inflammatory processes - albeit within a controversial strategy - by modulating cellular immunity, thus reducing the use of (other) antibiotics in the poultry industry.

In practical terms, pigeons have to deal with infections on their own and that depends on a perfectly functioning immune system. 

We need to support this immune system as efficiently as possible. It is hugely complex but crucial for performance in racing.

Manure good, everything good! Often the problems with the functioning of the immune system have to do with problems in the bowel.

Willem Debruijn's video explains it crystal clear.

There is a slight difference in the immune system between chickens and pigeons, but this is irrelevant to the interpretation of this study.

The immune system of a pigeon is a collaboration of different organs. These organs produce defence cells (lymphocytes) and antibodies (immunoglobulins). Antibodies are inherited from the mother (passive immunity) at hatching. These defences will gradually weaken as the pigeon begins to develop its own immune system after hatching. Unfortunately, circovirus (C.V.) is harmful to the immune system. During the first 2 months of a young pigeon's life, when passive immunity switches to active immunity, the Fabricius sac is a reservoir of circovirus: this is where B lymphocytes are formed. After antigenic stimulation, the B lymphocytes are transformed into plasma cells, which migrate into the blood. These are responsible for the production of immunoglobulins in the blood (humoral immunity). This subtle process is completely disturbed by the circovirus.

The pigeon risks a weakened immune system at weaning (immunity gap) if there is not a smooth transition from one phase to another. The COMED METHOD ensures a healthy immune system at any time. The COMED METHOD helps the young pigeon to get through this transitional period in a successful way during the weaning period.

The pigeon's immune system can be affected by negative (oxidative) stress (weaning, moving in groups, vaccination, unhygienic environment, transport, etc.). They lead to activation of the circovirus. The COMED METHOD ensures that the immune system of our pigeons is kept in balance. Our Comed products help young pigeons to overcome a temporary weakness in their immune system (resistance to disease).


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