Project Updates September 2020
COVID-19 related delays
ZIVO Bioscience conducts a significant portion of its research at academic institutions and universities across the US. The COVID pandemic has forced the closure of most academic research departments, as well as partial or complete shutdown of private facilities. In Michigan, executive orders issued by the governor shut down all academic, public and private research laboratories for nearly 2 months, until a new order was issued allowing doors to open in the last week of May. The ZIVO lab is open again, and several university labs have opened and can resume work on the Company’s behalf.
Poultry gut health
Poultry is the leading source of high-quality animal protein for the entire world. Increasing productivity and improving the health of each bird is the goal of every poultry producer, and it represents a singular opportunity for ZIVO. The Company is conducting clinical trial #16 at a poultry research facility in Maryland, and is expecting to confirm yet again that its proprietary algal culture and derivatives hold the potential to transform poultry production by improving the feed conversion ratio and boosting immune response to invasive pathogens by promoting a healthy gut. Even very small improvements in productivity create enormous returns for producers because of the vast number of birds grown in expansive facilities around the globe.
In December, the Company announced the characterization of a biologically active non-starch polysaccharide molecule that promotes a specific immune response. 8 months later, ZIVO has completed pilot-scale production of that molecule in fermenter/digester vessels, effectively creating a clean break from its proprietary algal culture. Much work remains, but this particular molecule has many applications in both animal and human health. As such, the molecule can be positioned as a natural product, given that it can be produced with natural fermentation and minimal processing. Or, the molecule can be further optimized and synthesized as a biopharmaceutical candidate.
Bovine mastitis testing
Bovine mastitis testing in California concluded in November 2019. Due to a range of factors, both technical and financial, ZIVO researchers received the study results in late April 2020. Unlike previous study reports, the results arrived as raw data, which required extensive reformatting, tabling and statistical processing, as conducted by ZIVO R&D Director Dr. Amy Steffek and extensive discussions with the field researchers to properly categorize, normalize and understand the raw data.
This latest study, in which cows were infected with particularly tenacious form of mastitis and were treated with lower concentrations of ZIVO compounds than previously tested, represented a significant hurdle for ZIVO’s compounds. Despite the considerable challenge presented by the study design and the small number of animals used, the ZIVO treatment group provided a statistically significant improvement in milk score (a measure of milk quality) following treatment compared to the untreated controls. In addition, the ZIVO treatment also reduced the prevalence of the mastitis pathogen observed in the infected mammary gland compared to the untreated control. Data analysis covering several additional markers of the disease is still in progress.
NutriQuest poultry testing in Europe
ZIVO was advised by NutriQuest that a group of poultry producers based in the Czech Republic would be testing ZIVO biomass as a poultry feed ingredient. The European diet for poultry contains a significant amount of wheat, which apparently irritates the intestinal tract. It is hoped that ZIVO algal biomass, administered at very low, vitamin-like inclusion rates, may help curb the inflammation, which slows down weight gain and impairs feed efficiency.
This study was initially delayed by the producers in January 2020, and then delayed again due to COVID pandemic shutdown. As of August 2020, a new schedule has not been provided by the poultry producers.
Poultry GRAS - US
Compliance work to affirm Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status for poultry feed in the US has been delayed due to lack of biomass, funding shortfalls and COVID-19 closures. The compliance process requires that contracted producers cultivate ZIVO biomass within the precise parameters developed by ZIVO and do so at commercial scale. This initiative has been temporarily placed on hold.
Algal biomass product development
In March 2020, ZIVO launched a modest product development program to determine whether the whole dried algal biomass held any promise as a functional skin health topical product. Preliminary tests indicate that incorporating ZIVO algal biomass into topical treatments can provide positive benefits. The Company has engaged a formulations lab to create a product concept utilizing ZIVO algae. However, COVID-related delays have pushed back the delivery date and subsequent PET safety testing to assure safe use as a topical skin care product. The Company expects the formulation process and safety testing to resume in early September 2020, after which ZIVO algae can be offered for sale in the US as a skin health topical ingredient.
Outsourced algae production
In Peru, ZIVO signed a letter of intent with agribusiness Grupo Alimenta, which currently operates a new algae production facility in Ica. A memorandum of understanding and a licensing/supply agreement have also been executed. The agreement calls for significant expansion of the Alimenta facility outside Ica, and the installation of post-processing and packaging equipment. Alimenta has significant experience and capability in algal cultivation and has recently been awarded the Rockefeller Green Prize in recognition of its sustainability efforts across all of its operations. More good news: Alimenta has successfully imported ZIVO inoculum from the US and has begun scaleup efforts.
An American company based near Aguacalientes, Mexico has entered into negotiations with ZIVO to build an algae production facility at its own expense, and to license the ZIVO algal culture and production methods. To that end, ZIVO has committed to provide engineering and cultivation expertise, and to execute an offtake agreement to purchase all of the algae produced on behalf of its customers. A working team has been formed to start work, with groundbreaking expected in mid-September.
New staff addition
ZIVO is pleased to announce that Dr. Harlan L. Miller III has joined the Company as Vice-President, Technology & Global Supply. Dr. Miller will head up all algal production, technology transfer, global supply logistics and assumes P&L responsibility for all agtech activities. By way of background, Dr. Miller has nearly 15 years’ experience in cleantech, agtech, and biotech industries and continues to be dedicated to developing environmentally responsible technologies and sustainable products. Before joining ZIVO, he was Director of Manufacturing at Global Thermostat, LLC, and managed an engineering project to deliver a first-of-its-kind CO2 direct air capture plant. Prior, he was Senior Director of Technology at Algenol Biotech LLC, where he headed project management, technical development of advanced photobioreactor systems, product development of color additives and proteins derived from algae, and commercial facility engineering under USDA and DOE loan guarantee programs. He is a named inventor on 4 issued patents with several pending patent applications. In academia, Dr. Miller studied algae production and the functional role of aquatic plants in marine and aquatic ecosystems. He received his Ph.D. in Marine Sciences from the University of Texas (Austin) Marine Science Institute, after which he served as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Georgia. He also received a M.S. in Plant Sciences from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a B.A. in Biology from Trinity College.