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ViAqua shrimp viral disease.jpg ViAqua Therapeutics
ViAqua Therapeutics CEO Shai Ufaz (at right) with project manager Maayan Oliva working on their formulation for protecting shrimp from viral diseases.

ViAqua makes strides in addressing aquaculture infections

ViAqua's first product is a functional feed that enhances shrimp health, reducing disease impact and limiting losses in shrimp aquaculture.

ViAqua Therapeutics announced the achievement of a number of key milestones in its quest to provide a solution to enhance shrimp health, thereby reducing disease and limiting losses in shrimp aquaculture.

According to the announcement, ViAqua and Skretting, a leading aquaculture feed company, entered a collaboration 18 months ago to develop a functional feed product for the aquaculture market. The joint efforts have yielded results necessary for the achievement of a second milestone, i.e., an efficient, cost-effective product.

ViAqua said it currently addresses one of the most prevalent and devastating issues that plague the aquaculture industry — infectious disease. Disease accounts for more than $6 billion of revenue losses annually, significantly influencing the global shrimp production industry, the company said in its announcement.

ViAqua said its product shields shrimp from pathogenic viruses, not only improving the viability of that individual, but also reducing the potential release of viruses to infect other shrimp. This concept reduces the potential of an epidemic infection outbreak.

Furthermore, the ViAqua particle is able to withstand the Skretting feed production process, opening the path for high volume production and product launch in 2021, the company said. ViAqua said it is working toward scaling up production for sales.

"This milestone was achieved with the funding raised in our previous round. We are now moving forward with a new funding round to commercialize our product. We are also developing additional solutions for shrimp and starting to adjust our platform to orally deliver solutions for fish and other aquatic species," ViAqua chief executive officer Shai Ufaz said.

Charles McGurk, fish health manager at the Skretting Aquaculture Research Center, added that the group "began working in this area in 1989 and launched the world's first fish health feed in 1992. We have been building on that (research and development) and advancing our expertise for almost 30 years since. The productive and open collaboration we have with ViAqua has made very good progress, and we see significant potential in the ViAqua technology."

Israel-based ViAqua Therapeutics has developed the first orally administered, non-genetically modified organism, non-antibiotic technology to reduce disease impact and limit losses in aquaculture. The company is on track for commercialization in 2021 and is working on applying its technology to other various aquatic species.

ViAqua is backed by Nutreco (parent of Skretting), VisVires New Protein, The Trendlines Group, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Israel Innovation Authority.

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