Cell cultivation success marks advance for immune research in cod

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
17 May 2007, at 1:00am

NORWAY - Fiskeriforskning has successfully cultivated cod cells in the laboratory. With its own cell culture, research into cod health will be more effective.

Cell cultures exist for other species of fish, but it is the first time that cod cells have been produced in this way.

The cod cells are cultivated in plastic boxes.

Consequently, living cells will always be available for study and research, and will no longer need to be removed from living fish.

Pioneering work

"We are very pleased to have our own cod cell cultures," comments researcher Ingvill Jensen, Fiskeriforskning.

"Normally, cells do not continue to divide outside the host organism. This is something we have been working to achieve for a long time."

Cell cultures are one of several tools developed to help acquire more knowledge of the cod's immune system and the genes that actively defend against disease.

This work forms part of Fiskeriforskning's own research programme into the health of cod that started in 2004.

To date, 2500 different gene sequences have been analysed. And now real results are being seen.

Important genes found

The cod cells divide into many different forms. The cells pictured here are magnified 200 times. Microscope.

"We have found a number of cod genes of importance in the fish's defence against disease. Knowledge of genes will form a tool for charting the parts of the immune defence that are activated by different diseases," adds Ingvill Jensen.

This knowledge can be used to develop vaccines for disease prevention.

Another possibility is to produce so-called immune stimulants that can be added to cod feed and which activate the fish's defence cells, better equipping them to eliminate viruses and bacteria.

Complex research

Research into cod genes and disease is time consuming.

There has been very little research into the immune system of cod. Much of the gene sequences in cod are unlike those of other species, thus limiting the benefits that can be drawn from gene research previously carried out.

"This makes the work involved more complex and time consuming, but it gives us the knowledge we need about cod," says Ingvill Jensen.

The research programme, a collaboration between the Norwegian College of Fishery Science and Fiskeriforskning, will run until end-2008. The programme is being financed by the Research Council of Norway and Fiskeriforskning.