October 2, 2020


New aquaculture vaccine JV formed by Touchlight Genetics and Stonehaven Incubate




Biotechnology company Touchlight Genetics LLC and animal health group Stonehaven Incubate AG have formed a new joint venture company called Touchlight Aquaculture, which will develop new vaccine solutions exclusively in the field of aquaculture.


The new company will use Touchlight Genetics' innovative DNA-based Doggybone technology, which provides a unique, synthetic DNA vector system in combination with an enzymatic process, allowing for larger-scale commercial production at a significantly lower cost, according to a news release on Tuesday, Sept. 29.


DNA vaccines have the potential to enable cost-efficient, safe and more effective immunisation with shorter production timelines. They have already been shown to be safe and effective with approvals already granted for veterinary use. However, these have shown some limitations in terms of commercial scalability, which resulted in limited widespread adoption.


Dr. Mark Heffernan CEO of Stonehaven Incubate, said: "We are delighted to be working with an established and proven leader in DNA vaccine technologies, and now applying this in a field seeking innovation and advancement".


He noted that aquaculture has a critical role in addressing the protein gap created by the expanding global population, which is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. "With a large percentage of global fish stock lost to infectious disease annually, there is growing awareness of the need for more cost-effective vaccine options", he said. Stonehaven Incubate, based in Switzerland, is a global business incubator focused on identifying cutting-edge technologies developed to improve human health and creating stand-alone companies to apply those for animal health.


Jonny Ohlson, CEO of Touchlight, said: "There has never been greater need to deploy effective vaccines at global scale, whether in humans or in animals. DNA vaccines are the future thanks to their potential to enable efficient and safe immunisation on a large scale".


"We are excited to use our technology to support the aquaculture sector, and with Stonehaven Incubate we have a partner with proven expertise in animal health", he added.


Touchlight, based in London, is focused on the discovery and development of DNA-based genetic medicines including DNA vaccines and gene therapies.