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An Answer Pending on Chile's Salmon Woes

CHILE - Researchers may have a new weapon against infectious salmon anemia (ISA), the scourge of Chiles salmon industry.

According to the Patagonia Times, Chilean pharmaceutical company Corporación Farmacéutica Recalcine applied Wednesday for approval to conduct field tests for a new vaccine against the disease. If successful, the vaccine has the potential to staunch a plague that has wiped out 16 salmon-farming centers and led to hundreds of lay-offs in Chile’s southern regions in the last year. ISA poses a major threat to the profitability of Chile’s salmon industry, which last year raked in $2.2 billion.

“This is the first ISA vaccine specific to Chilean salmon stocks,” Recalcine researcher Alejandro Weinstein told the news agency. “We are seeking approval from the National Fishery Service (Sernapesca) to conduct field tests. Technically, we have developed the vaccine.”

Weinstein is the controlling partner of Recalcine, founded by his family 85 years ago. The vaccine development project began at the end of last year with the formation of a 10-member international team of animal virology experts.

Researchers developed the vaccine with the express purpose of thwarting the Chilean strain of the ISA virus. It differs from others on the global market that target Norwegian ISA outbreaks and don’t accommodate for important differences in the virus’s behavior in Chile. Furthermore, halting the spread of the disease in Chile requires accounting for local environmental conditions and production methods, according to Weinstein.