Scientists Partner with Canadian Antibody Company to Distribute New Fish Disease-Detecting Tool

Monday, April 20 2009

April 20, 2009

Written by Sue McMurray

MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho fisheries scientist Ken Cain and Washington State University researcher Douglas Call have collaborated to develop an antibody that detects the fish pathogen that causes Coldwater Disease in trout and salmon.

A new licensing agreement between the University of Idaho and ImmunoPrecise Antibodies Ltd. (IPA), a company that produces antibodies to many salmonid pathogens, will commercialize an important antibody for screening the aquatic pathogen Flavobacterium psychrophilum in salmon and trout broodstock. The pathogen causes bacterial Coldwater Disease in North America and Rainbow Trout Fry Syndrome in Europe and Japan.

“The whole idea is for fish labs to be able to use this antibody to rank levels of infection in adult fish and determine the liklihood of transferring the infection to their progeny,” said Cain, associate director of the University of Idaho Aquaculture Research Institute.

Coldwater Disease is a worldwide problem for rainbow trout reared in fish hatcheries for commercial aquaculture and resource enhancement. In recent years, economic losses from this disease in Idaho’s trout industry alone are estimated at approximately $10 million annually, and in the U.S. only a limited number of therapeutic treatments are available to combat its devastating effects.

Up to this point, diagnostic labs have primarily detected Flavobacterium psychrophilum, the pathogen that causes Coldwater Disease, using a time consuming culturing process. IPA will work with Cain’s laboratory, along with other researchers, to develop a diagnostic kit for quantifying infection levels in commercial hatcheries.

There are two assays, or protocols that have been developed: one that quantifies the level of infection in fish, and one that binds the antibody to the pathogen with a fluorescent tag that can be visualized easily under the microscope. Each assay makes it easier to detect and cull infected fish.

IPA will have purified anti-F. psychrophilum monoclonal antibody available for sale by August 2009. Diagnostic kits will be available by early 2010. Contact IPA at (250) 483-0308 for more information.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education 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 ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit

Media Contact: Ken Cain, Fishery Resources, College of Natural Resources (208) 885-7608,; or Sue McMurray, College of Natural Resources Communications, (208) 885-6673,

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