Development of novel oral vaccination strategies for Atlantic salmon

Development of novel oral vaccination strategies for Atlantic salmon

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council logo - bioscience for the futurePrincipal Investigator:


  • Dr. Jun Zou (IBES)
  • Prof Sandra Adams (SIA)
  • Prof Gordon Allan(QUB)
  • Dr Mark Mooney(QUB)

Research fellow:

  • Dr. Sohye Yoon (IBES)

With the completion of the salmon genome we know more about fish immunity than ever before. This project will use this knowledge to undertake ground breaking research on several aspects of gut immunity and oral vaccination, helping the UK's aquaculture industry to remain sustainable and to encouraging growth. This project will bring together a team of academics from the University of Aberdeen, University of Stirling and Queen’s University Belfast, and industrial partners (MSD animal Health and SISAF).

In 2011 nearly 50 million fish were vaccinated in Scotland alone. This is a very costly process and in addition causes a significant amount of stress that makes fish susceptible to other diseases and can only be employed before they are moved to sea. The side-effects from oil-based adjuvants usually include localized inflammation within the peritoneal cavity, which can compromise growth and depreciate the fillet value. To overcome this problem we propose to undertake research to allow development of oral vaccination for salmon.

This will include testing of a novel oral vaccine delivery technology based on nanoparticles. Oral vaccination has several advantages in comparison to injection:

  • The vaccine would be formulated into the feed, making it easy to administer
  • The stress of handling the fish is thus avoided and the need for chemical treatments post-vaccination, to prevent opportunistic pathogens, is avoided
  • Extra doses can be given after fish have been moved to sea

Therefore this technology will help make salmon farming more efficient, sustainable, and reduce the cost of disease prevention.

To achieve this goal the project will focus on key areas required to understand oral vaccine efficacy.

  • researcher looking at red liquid in petri-dishHow foreign molecules are recognised and presented to immune cells in the gut of salmon
  • Evaluate gene markers of vaccine effectiveness using existing commercial vaccines that use mucosal delivery, either by immersion of fish in the vaccine solution as a primary vaccination, or given as oral boosters
  • Evaluate the use of silicon based nanoparticles, to deliver vaccines against two commercially relevant diseases: Furunculosis and Pancreas Disease

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