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ISU awarded grant to develop in-feed vaccine

US - Researchers at Idaho State University (ISU) have received a $550,000 grant to develop a food pellet vaccine for hatchery rainbow trout. If successful, the breakthrough could lead to new ways to treat and protect livestock and human health.

"There is no real effective oral delivery system for any vaccine. But if we can get this to work in trout, the real potential is not only for trout and this disease. We could apply this to other species and other diseases," ," said Wendy Sealey, a University of Idaho professor at the Aquaculture Research Institute in Hagerman.

The state Board of Education awarded the grant - covering a two-year period - for research into the treatment and prevention of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus in farm-raised trout.

The disease causes slime to accumulate near a fish's gills and eventual death by suffocation. About 30 percent of farm-raised trout — an industry that generates $40 million to $50 million annually in Idaho — contract the disease.

Sophie St. Hilaire, an ISU biology professor and the project's lead researcher, says that getting the vaccine from the pellet into the trout's bloodstream is difficult.

"Fish have two stomachs. When you feed something to the fish, their gut breaks it down so the delivery system must protect (the vaccine) so it can be taken up in the lower gut where nutrients are absorbed," she explained.

This is achieved by delaying when the pellet is broken down. The vaccine needs to be protected from degradation in the first stomach so it can move into the second, where it will be broken down and then absorbed.

ISU pharmaceutics professor John Eley is developing the method. He said that alsothough fish farming is the initial focus for this work, the outcomes could eventually benefit livestock, samll animal medicine . human treatment options.

Further Reading

- For more information on Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN) click here.