It’s in the Water: University of Idaho and Industry Scientists Patent Fish Disease Vaccine

Wednesday, December 8 2010


Written by Sue McMurray
 
MOSCOW, Idaho – Tainted water is one of the most deadly conduits for disease known to man – and fish.

Bacterial coldwater disease (CWD), caused by the bacterium Flavobacterium psychrophilum, is a lethal infection that causes significant losses of hatchery-reared salmonids worldwide. The disease is regarded as the No. 1 problem for Idaho’s trout industry, resulting in $9-10 million annual losses and up to a 30 percent reduction in yield.

University of Idaho fisheries scientist Ken Cain; Benjamin R. LaFrentz, research molecular biologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service; and Scott LaPatra, director of research and farm services at Clear Springs Foods, Inc. Buhl; collaboratively developed a CWD vaccine that was recently patented by the University of Idaho.

"Cain's innovative, collaborative research promises millions in savings for Idaho's commercial trout industry – the third largest animal food industry in the state and the nation's largest producer," said Duane Nellis, University of Idaho president. "Solutions like this are in keeping with our mission as a 21st century land-grant institution with global impact."

CWD also is problematic at hatcheries rearing fish for sport or restoration, and although present in the wild, stress in the hatchery environment may induce disease outbreaks.

“Practical delivery of a vaccine in aquaculture is extremely important,” said Cain. “This is the first time we have been able to show that immersing fish into an experimental CWD vaccine will provide disease protection.”

Cain explains that while most vaccines work using killed bacteria, CWD only responds to live bacteria. He and his colleagues developed a strain of the live Flavobacterium psychrophilum bacterium, which works as an injection or as an immersion vaccine.

This product currently is being tested in field trials at northwest hatcheries. If the field trials prove successful, the company Aquatic Life Sciences has first option to license the patent from the university and commercialize the vaccine for sale to both public and private aquaculture operations.
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation classification for high research activity. The student population of 12,302 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For more information, visit www.uidaho.edu.





About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.