Microsynbiotix is a biotechnology company headquartered in Cork, Ireland that was founded by Antonio Lamb, Sebastian Cocioba, and Simon Jegan Porphy in 2016. The company is using transgenic microalgae to produce oral vaccines for problematic diseases within the aquaculture industry. The company long term plans to apply their oral vaccines to other farming sectors such as pig production and eventually to humans. Microsynbiotix has a subsidiary in San Diego where co-founder Antionio Lamb is head of genetic engineering for the edible vaccine platform. The Cork site is involved in product development from the business side.
Their oral vaccines are designed to improve disease management (viral and bacterial), reduce fish mortality rates, and reduce the need of antibiotics for aquaculture food production. Microsynbiotix makes their vaccines by building synthetic vaccines and introducing them into microalgae which are loaded into bioreactors and grown into fish feed that can be fed to fish in aquaculture farms.
Existing vaccination technology for fish farming generally involves the use of handheld injections of individual fish. The cost of injecting vaccines may be justified for high-value fish such as salmon and sea bass but less practical for high-volume, low value fish such as tilapia, carp, catfish or shrimp.
Challenges to oral vaccines are palatability and getting suitable amounts of vaccines into the gut of the fish, which is highly acidic and can degrade the vaccine. As of 2018 the company stated that it was working on establishing proof of concept. A proof of concept study sponsored by the Center for Aquaculture Technologies in Canada showed that their platform was useful and that it worked. Milestones that had reached at that time include the vaccination of juvenile sea bass and survival of microalgae in the stomach and that it reached the hind gut of the fish and gave an immune response. Microsynbiotix stated that their next steps were to challenge fish with virus to show the immune response is protective.
Microsynbiotix plans to work with animal health companies that develop vaccines an delivery platforms. The idea is that animal health companies can engage with the Irish biotech firm at an early stage of product development and then license its oral vaccine delivery platform.
Simon Jegan Porphy
Cork-based MicroSynbiotix secures €1m to tackle fish stock infections
MicroSynbiotix uses synbio to help fish farming | PLOS Synthetic Biology Community
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