Full time PhD student:
- Marc Faber (2015-2018)
This project is part of the ParaFishControl project, which aims to improve the understanding of fish-parasite interactions and develop mitigating strategies. My project focuses on in silico identification of candidate drug and vaccination targets of the parasite Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae, the causative agent of PKD (Proliferative Kidney Disease.)
Infection causes massive proliferation of interstitial cells and an abnormal inflammatory response in macrophages. It poses a threat especially to farmed rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in Europe and North America, causing huge losses and production bottlenecks, as disease progression is highly influenced by seasonal water temperature profiles. Fish surviving PKD are immune to reinfection, which opens the door to vaccine development, but is aggravated by the wide spreading immune response during disease progression.
This project is aiming to find and develop vaccine and drug targets:
Selected candidates will be tested by DNA vaccination in field and laboratory trials to assess their effectiveness in reducing parasitic infection and host immune system modulation.
Novel transcriptomic data will be generated from infected gills, the point of entry and first potential target for immunosuppressive agents by the parasite.
Immune-stimulatory therapeutics will be administered to reduce the characteristic proliferative pathology within the kidney.
The aim of this project is to reduce the losses in rainbow trout aquaculture caused by PKD and secondary infections. This will eliminate production bottlenecks by the current exposure program, driven by the temperature dependent progression of PKD. Successful genes verified by DNA vaccination will be used to either develop a recombinant protein vaccine or use therapeutic approaches to reduce the fatal pathology PKD.