LEADING Scottish life sciences firm, Big DNA, located at the Roslin BioCentre, Edinburgh, has announced its membership of a Europe-wide consortium that has been awarded European Union funding under the Euro six million ‘Targetfish’ project. This major project is aimed at developing new aquaculture vaccines.
European aquaculture production provides employment to 65,000 people and the industry sector is worth some three billion euros per annum. Lack of authorised veterinary medicinal products and the consequent disease outbreaks in farmed fish species cost the sector 20 per cent of production values. The most appropriate method for disease control both on economical and ethical grounds is disease prevention by vaccination.
The Framework 7 Targetfish Project, which lasts for five years, includes 30 collaborators, both industrial and academic, across ten EU countries, and aims to develop affordable and effective vaccines against a range of economically important fish diseases, including those affecting salmon, trout and sea bass, amongst others.
Scotland is particularly well represented in the Project, which involves four Scotland-based commercial companies and research institutes, of which Big DNA Ltd is one, and, which lays testament to the expertise available in the country for commercial aquaculture.
Dr John March, CEO of Big DNA commented: “We are delighted to be part of this significant European initiative, which recognises the potential of our chimeric M13 phage-based vaccine technology for use in applications such as aquaculture. This further expands the utility of our platform technology in addition to our core interest in developing human healthcare products.”
Rhona Alison, senior director of life sciences, Scottish Enterprise, said: “This news is very exciting for both Scottish Life Sciences and Big DNA. The level of Scottish participation as a whole in this European programme underlines the strength of the aquaculture sector here and builds on Scotland’s increasing reputation as a leading international hub of life sciences expertise.”
Big DNA has developed fish vaccines which are able to be administered through immersing the fish in tanks of water containing the vaccines, thus eliminating the need for use of needles which can damage the fish.