The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $790,326 Seeding Solutions grant to the University of Florida to develop a vaccine delivery system that will prevent the spread of tilapia lake virus and other diseases in the aquaculture industry. Curtiss Healthcare provided matching funds for a $1,830,312 total investment.
Led by Roy Curtiss, University of Florida researchers are developing an innovative DNA vaccine delivery system based on weakened and programmed self-destructing bacterial strains, which can be applied through the mucous membranes and enable complete protection against the virus. Mucosal delivery is cost-effective and stimulates all branches of the immune system. The use of this vaccine will boost the productivity of tilapia farming and the platform technology could be used for other aquaculture pathogens, enhancing sustainable agriculture.
“The vaccine delivery system being developed for fish is patterned after the Salmonella vectored vaccines our lab has created for preventing infectious diseases in farm animals as well as enhancing food safety by decreasing the threat of pathogens transmitted from animals to humans through the food chain,” said Curtiss. “These vaccines will also likely reduce the use of antibiotics in agriculture and thus reduce selection for drug-resistant bacterial pathogens.”