BIONATURIS announced that it has started the Aquafly project to research more efficient vaccination alternatives for farmed fish.
Bionaturis, a biotechnology company based in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, is collaborating with the science faculty at Cadiz University in Spain and the Andalusian Aquaculture Technological Centre Foundation.
According to the announcement, the idea for the project emerged from the Bionaturis internal aquaculture research and development team after analyzing the sector's needs following recent meetings with international and national producers and veterinary companies.
The technical goal of Aquafly is to design and develop new oral therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines, based on the FLYLIFE production system -- which uses insect larva as bioreactors to produce biological drugs -- that can be used more safely and efficiently to protect farmed fish against major diseases, the announcement said.
The three-year research program will be led by Dr. Ana de las Heras with Bionaturis. The project is being co-funded by the Corporacion Tecnologica de Andalucia.
Aquaculture in Spain currently generates nearly 500 million euros, and Spain's southwestern region of Andalusia accounts for 11% of the total.
However, the greater density of farms due to this intensification has led to a greater concentration of pathogens in farmed fish, the announcement said, noting that experts have estimated 20% losses for the aquaculture industry due to disease.
The Aquafly project will work with some of the most important pathogens and fish species in Andalusia.
"Thanks to our Flylife technological platform, we will develop vaccines and other types of treatments to be administered orally ... for some of the main pathogens that currently affect aquaculture," Heras said.
She noted that, "so far, injections have been the only way that has proven to be really effective, but they are greatly limited due to the cost and handling. Not just the stress generated by handling but also the size of the fish limit the use of vaccines by injection."