October 2011 is the kick-off date to the Targetfish Project involving 30 world-class partners from 13 different countries, gathering 6 millions in funding. The project will develop existing and new vaccines in order to protect such important species as atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, common carp, sea bass, sea bream, and turbot. It will also establish a knowledge base for the rational development of next-generation fish vaccines. This month, along with the First International Conference of Fish and Shellfish Immunology in Vigo, Targetfish consortium has met to monitor the project on-going results and next steps. Besides, this year two external scientists advisers have been joined to the project: John Hansen and Niels Jorgen Olesen. Bionaturis’ Project Manager Ana I. De las Heras says the latest news:

Equipo Targetfish

1. Looking back, how do you rate these initial months of research?

Overall, we are very satisfied. We are having an enrichment professional relationship with the partners involved in this project. Besides, the first steps taken by the consortium are being very satisfactory.

2. What is the great challenge of this project?

No doubt get real and practical solutions to the health problems that it is facing European aquaculture. The icing on the cake would be to bring new vaccines to the market.

3. Nowadays, which are the main pathogens that aquaculture species are being affected by?

Different pathogens are identified for every single aquaculture species. In Spain the main pathogens are bacterial, but if we look to production drops, losses caused by Nodavirus in sea bream and sea bass(two of the species with the highest production in our country) are remarkable.

In Europe, the following viral caused diseases should be pointed out in salmon farming: IPNV (Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus), SPDV (Salmon Pancreas Disease Virus), VHSV (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia), and also bacterial diseases, such us: furunculosis, pasteurellosis, vibriosis, edwardsiellosis, lactococcus or Rainbow Trout Fry Disease (RTFS).

In case of the common carp, is affected by the spring viraemia of carp virus and Koi Herpes virus.

4. What´s the role of Bionaturis within the Targetfish project?

Using our proprietary technology Flylife, Bionaturis is involved in the development of different vaccines, especially vaccines for oral delivery.

5. Aquaculture is a business with an exponential growth, generating almost 500 million euros per year in Spain. In contrast, experts estimate that around 20% of the production is lost as a result of the pathogens cited before and also, as a consequence of high fish density that exists in the fish farms. Thus, what do you think about the impact of these oral vaccines?

Currently, the most used in aquaculture are injectable and immersion vaccines. Vaccination stresses the animals which mean a significant delay in the production, and even in some cases, mortality. Besides, many of the diseases affect to fry where the injection is impossible due to their small size.

Accessibility is another important issue to be taken into account when we think of fish vaccination. Fishes could be farmed in sea cages or open water; where the handling gets difficult. Oral vaccination would be a great improvement which would facilitate health treatments and that would translate into a reduction of losses associated with these diseases.

6. What are the greatest contributions of your partners?

All members of the consortium have recognized international prestige in fish and shellfish immunology and immunolopathology, and companies of the sector too. I think that that Targetfish is a world-class consortium with the highest scientific and professional level.

Reunión en Vigo, consorcio Targetfish, junio 20137.At the First International Conference of Fish and Sellfish Immunology, Targetfish has presented a poster to disseminate its goals and activities. In this sense, what other dissemination activities are planed?

We expect that Targetfish scientific production will be remarkable in the coming years, but we would like to make Targetfish visible not only at scientific congress but also in scientific magazines, aquaculture businesses, etc. The whole information about the consortium can be found on the following website (click here). But above all, the ultimate goal of the project will be to bring new vaccines to the market place.