Innovative bacterial products for the
treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal inflammation in people and animals

The problem of gastrointestinal inflammation

Gastrointestinal inflammation is a key component of many diseases affecting millions of people and animals worldwide. Despite its high prevalence, a lack of treatment options means patients are often reliant on drugs with negative side effects. Bacterial products are popular due to their perception as safe, natural treatments, but currently marketed products cannot function during active disease.

Ferryx is developing bacterial products capable of functioning during active disease. These products are naturally occurring strains of bacteria, selected for their safety and efficacy, which can be developed as food supplements or prescription therapeutics.

Our Technology

Our lead product is FX856, a safe and effective live bacterial product which can be used for the prevention or treatment of gastrointestinal inflammation in humans or animals, reducing symptoms and consequences of disease progression.

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Our Technology: Further Info

An anti-inflammatory iron-responsive live bacterial product

During periods of active inflammation, stress or following surgery there is an increase in levels of iron in the gut. While most constituents of the gastrointestinal microbiome are able to grow under conditions of increased iron availability, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, frequently employed as probiotics, are rapidly out-competed and cannot have a beneficial effect. Thus, in order for a bacterial product to be functional during periods of active inflammation, stress or following surgery, it must be able to thrive in iron-rich environments by increasing growth rate in order to compete with the resident microbiome. Through a rational selection process, we have identified a strain of Streptococcus thermophilus (designated FX856) which is able to increase growth rate in response to iron and has anti-inflammatory properties in standard models of gastrointestinal inflammatory disease.

Key points:
  • Improved clinical symptoms, including bodyweight loss and gastrointestinal bleeding, in a standard mouse model of colitis
  • Reduced signs of post-weaning disease in a study of neonatal calves
  • Demonstrated efficacy in standard in vitro models
  • Excellent safety profile in vitro and in vivo
  • Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) status in the USA and Qualified Presumption of Safety (QPS) status in Europe

1. Bailey, J.R., Probert, C.S.J., and Cogan, T.A. Identification and characterisation of an iron-responsive candidate probiotic. PLoS ONE, 2011, 6(10): e26507.

2. Bailey, J.R., Vince, V., Williams, N.A., and Cogan, T.A. Streptococcus thermophilus NCIMB 41856 ameliorates colitis in an animal model of inflammatory bowel disease. Beneficial Microbes, 2017, 8(4): 605-614.

Co-development Opportunities

Human food supplement

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Human food supplement

Gastrointestinal complaints affect millions of people worldwide. One of the most common conditions is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), affecting more than 10 million people in the UK and 900 million people worldwide. IBS has a significant impact on quality of life and ability to work; absenteeism and presenteeism cost industry £400-£900/patient/year. The direct care cost of IBS in the UK is estimated to be £974m/year and, in addition, 15-43% of sufferers will purchase remedies to alleviate their symptoms. Whilst probiotics are popular amongst this group of patients, currently there is no product on the market which is able to treat active inflammation.

There is a need for an over the counter (OTC) remedy to treat the active low-grade inflammation seen in IBS and alleviate symptoms. Due to its safety and efficacy in treating active disease, FX856 is well placed to enter this market.

FX856, like all S. thermophilus strains, benefits from regulatory exemptions (GRAS in USA, QPS in Europe), allowing immediate access to the food supplement market, targeted towards people with gastrointestinal complaints, such as IBS.

The UK’s nutritional supplement market is expected to reach £13 billion growing at a CAGR of 6% by 2023. Europe is also set to see an increase, from an estimated $33.68 billion in 2017 rising by 6.48% in the same period. Worldwide, the health and wellness supplements market reached $207.59 billion in 2018, and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.45% reaching $283.75 billion by 2023.

Human prescription medication

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Human prescription medication

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects 620,000 individuals in the UK, and 5 million globally. Current standard of care for mild-moderate disease is frequently mesalazine, but 60% patients do not take the drug as prescribed due to poor tolerance and compliance. Second line treatments (azathioprine, biologics) carry significant side effects, are costly, or both. IBD costs the NHS alone in excess of £1 billion per year.

There is a need for a cost-effective alternative to mesalazine, with a safety advantage, to prolong periods of remission and delay or reduce the need for surgical intervention. Additionally, there is a need for an adjunct therapy to be used alongside mesalazine to avoid escalation to costly second line treatments with significant side effects.

In 2016, ulcerative colitis (UC) had an estimated market across 7 major markets worldwide (7MM) of approximately $5.4 billion, and over 90% of UC patients received a prescription for mesalazine between October 2013 and February 2016.

In a standard DSS mouse model of colitis, daily oral administration of FX856 delayed onset of colitis, significantly reduced bodyweight loss and gastrointestinal bleeding, and improved clinical score.

FX856 is well placed to be used as a cost-effective single or adjunctive early therapy in efforts to initiate or prolong remission.


1. Bailey, J.R., Vince, V., Williams, N.A., and Cogan, T.A. Streptococcus thermophilus NCIMB 41856 ameliorates colitis in an animal model of inflammatory bowel disease. Beneficial Microbes, 2017, 8(4): 605-614.

Veterinary applications

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Veterinary applications

Neonatal calf diarrhoea

There are 9.79 million cattle in the UK, of which 2.96 million are under one year of age. USDA (as of January 1, 2018) estimate 94.4 million cattle in the USA, implying approx. 28 million calves under 1 year.

The most common causes of morbidity and mortality in neonatal calves are diarrhoea and bovine respiratory diseases with an estimated cost to the UK national herd of £11million/year for enteric diseases, and £50-80million/year for respiratory diseases; there is potentially a 10-fold higher market in the USA.

Antibiotics are commonly used to treat diarrhoea and respiratory diseases, but there are significant issues with the threat of these agents being passed up the food chain, and further fuelling the global antimicrobial resistance threat.

In a pilot randomised study on a dairy farm, calves given FX856 once daily in their morning feed for 10 days showed reduced incidence and severity of diarrhoea and nasal discharge.

Given its established safety in use and the pilot data obtained, it is envisaged that FX856 may be used routinely in post-partum feed strategies as a prophylactic treatment administered in milk replacer or feed to reduce incidence and severity of neonatal calf diarrhoea and respiratory disease.

Canine gastrointestinal disease

The UK dog population is approximately 8-10 million and a recent study found a prevalence of 6.4% for diarrhoea and 2.6% for gastroenteritis. Approximately one third of dogs with acute diarrhoea presenting to a veterinary practice will be prescribed antibiotics, despite 50% of these cases being viral. There is a need for a novel therapy to reduce severity of diarrhoea while reducing reliance on antimicrobials.

Furthermore, around 20% of dogs with chronic gastrointestinal inflammation have disease which is difficult to control; 4% of dogs will be euthanised due to an inability to control the condition. Gastrointestinal inflammatory disease is distressing for both animals and owners, and current treatments include hydrolysed diets, antibiotics, steroids and immunosuppressives, including azathioprine. There is a need for novel treatments for this condition to reduce use of antibiotics and immunosuppressives, with their significant side effects, and to provide an alternative option for the 20% of animals with disease which is difficult to control.

FX856 could be used to treat active disease or prolong remission in dogs with inflammatory gastrointestinal disease. It could be used as an adjunct to current therapy or an alternative option where currently available therapy fails.

About Us

Ferryx Ltd was formed in 2019 as a spin-out from the University of Bristol to take anti-inflammatory bacterial products into commercial production for the benefit of humans and animals. FX856 is the lead product in a library of bacterial strains which are still undergoing characterisation.

Dr Jenny Bailey

Chief Executive Officer

Meet the team
Dr Jenny Bailey

Chief Executive Officer

Dr Jenny Bailey is Co-founder of Ferryx Ltd and is responsible for developing and delivering the company strategy. She has a PhD in gastrointestinal immunology and 16 years’ research experience in gastrointestinal disease in humans and animals. Jenny has been responsible for the development of FX856 since its early stages and has led its commercialisation over the last two years.

Dr Tristan Cogan

Chief Technical Officer

Meet the team
Dr Tristan Cogan

Chief Technical Officer

Dr Tristan Cogan is Co-founder of Ferryx Ltd and a Senior Lecturer in Infectious Disease at the University of Bristol’s Veterinary School. He has worked on gastrointestinal disease for 20 years, first for the Health Protection Agency and more recently at the University of Bristol. His research expertise is in the dynamics of bacterial populations during disease and their interaction with the host. He has obtained and supervised at either PI or Co-I level over £4.5 M of grant funding in this area. He works with a number of companies across Europe and North America advising on and carrying out the development of novel antimicrobial agents in animal health indications. He has expertise in bacterial physiology and growth and how culture can be scaled up from the lab to industrial capacity, areas on which he has advised the Kuwaiti government. His interests lie in the development of novel or disruptive technologies and progressing these from idea to proven treatment.

Dr John Fox

Chair of the Board and Development Advisor

Meet the team
Dr John Fox

Chair of the Board and Development Advisor

Dr John Fox has over 30 years’ experience of drug development, due diligence and licensing in multinational and early biotech companies. After obtaining his PhD from Queens University Belfast and spending some years in the Dept. of Therapeutics and Pharmacology, he joined the pharmaceutical industry with Eli Lilly. Subsequently he managed translational development projects at Shire Pharmaceuticals and was appointed Group Director of Planning before co-founding Hunter Fleming to license and develop university technologies in the field of neuroprotection. As Chief Operations Officer he was instrumental in licensing, funding and developing a number of projects from bench research to clinical development. After Hunter Fleming’s portfolio was acquired by Newron SpA, Dr Fox served as Chief Development Officer and subsequently Chief Executive of Merrion Pharmaceuticals plc, a drug delivery company based in Dublin, before returning to the UK.

He is currently Chief Executive of a London-based university spin-out, a non-executive director of a drug delivery spin-out from Queens University Belfast, and has supported entrepreneurs as a mentor through the Duke of York’s initiative Pitch at the Palace and ICURe. He has been involved in commercial feasibility assessment of university research in both Ireland and the UK, and has served as a non-executive director of Southampton Innovations.


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