September 7, 2023


Israeli firm raises US$8.25 million to develop vaccine for shrimp farming



ViAqua Therapeutics, an Israeli company aiming to transform shrimp farming through vaccination, has secured US$8.25 million in funding from a consortium of venture capitalists, Fish Farmer reported.


The company is pioneering an orally administered vaccine platform designed for the targeted delivery of RNA-based solutions, enhancing disease resistance in the aquaculture industry.


RNA vaccines function by introducing an mRNA sequence, guiding the immune system to recognise pathogens and respond when encountered, offering a quicker and more cost-effective production process compared to traditional vaccines, which utilise parts of bacteria or viruses.


Shai Ufaz, chief executive officer of ViAqua, highlighted the significance of oral delivery in aquaculture health development. Vaccinating individual shrimp is challenging, and oral administration reduces operational disease management costs while improving outcomes.


The recent funding round was led by S2G Ventures and included participation from Rabo Ventures, The Trendlines Group Ltd., Agriline Limited, Nutreco, I-Lab Angels, and Circle Investments LLC.


Shrimp, a globally consumed seafood product, are highly vulnerable to diseases due to their lack of adaptive immune systems. Currently, there are no available products to combat shrimp diseases.


ViAqua's inaugural product is a feed supplement designed to boost resistance against viral infections in shrimp. The initial focus is on the White Spot Virus (WSSV), responsible for annual losses of around US$3 billion and a 15% decline in global shrimp production. This solution aims to provide production stability for farmers while permitting increased production without raising disease risk.


Kate Danaher, managing director of S2G Ventures' Ocean and Seafood fund, stressed the importance of ViAqua's platform technology in addressing various aquaculture diseases, positioning the company ahead of technologies still years away from the market.


ViAqua manufactures its capsule products through commercial, industrial processes and is scaling production for its first product launch. Production is set to commence in India at the start of 2024, thanks to a commercial partnership established through a joint development and marketing agreement with Skretting, a Nutreco company.


-      Fish Farmer

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