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Fish Vaccine Adjuvant Development

UK - Henderson Morley, the biotechnology company, announces that the Company is in discussions with a number of animal health companies regarding the further development of a fish vaccine adjuvant.

The Company has started trials which are examining the role of a proprietary vaccine adjuvant, designed for use in the KHV vaccine program, but also with potential utility in other commercially important fish vaccines. The cost of this programme is funded within the current cash burn.

Adjuvants have been used for many years in both human and animal vaccines - these are non-specific stimulators that 'kick start' the immune system. They are usually given simultaneously with a vaccine, and ideally have no adverse effects.

Due to the high level of stimulation required by the immune system of fish, existing adjuvants generally use combinations of mineral oils and other noxious substances. Adverse effects in existing adjuvants include a slowing of growth rate (important in food fish), surface scarring (significant in ornamental fish), adhesions in the peritoneum, and even death.

The Henderson Morley adjuvant under development is intended to supersede adjuvants that are currently widely used, as these adverse effects are not anticipated.

The market for a successful fish vaccine adjuvant is significant. In addition to salmon and trout, commercial vaccines are available for channel catfish, European seabass and seabream, Japanese amberjack and yellowtail, tilapia and Atlantic cod. All of these require an adjuvant, and based on current market conditions, approximately 10% of the value of the vaccine is for the adjuvant.

World aquaculture has grown significantly during the past half-century. In the early 1950s production was below 1 million tonnes and by 2004 it was reported to have risen to 59.4 million tonnes, with a value of US$70.3 billion. This represents an average annual increase of 7.7 percent in value over reported figures for 2002. The aquaculture market is therefore an exciting and thriving sector in which to be working.

Executive Chairman Andrew Knight said "The development of a new fish vaccine adjuvant that can be used independently of our KHV program is another technology that we would expect to license to an aquaculture company. The Company will update the market with progress in both programs in due course".