Today's vaccines are primarily injection vaccines. Although many vaccines work well, there is still a great need for the development of new and more effective vaccines that provide better protection against disease. It is also agreed that injection vaccination is not an optimal treatment. Injection vaccination is a burden on the fish, and it does not mimic the natural defense of the fish. The fish's surfaces, including skin, gut and bowel, are continuously exposed to microorganisms in the environment. To combat disease-causing viruses and bacteria on these mucosal surfaces (mucous membranes), a strong mucosal defense is also required.
Oral vaccination will provide exposure to the vaccine via mucosa and may therefore be a better strategy for achieving a strong mucosal defense. Oral vaccination allows both simple administration and mimics a natural infection in the fish and is therefore an obviously preferred alternative for vaccination of fish. However, only one oral fish vaccine exists on the market today. The biggest challenges with oral vaccines are:
- The vaccine breaks rapidly down in the harsh environment of the stomach and therefore needs protection
- The vaccine is not sufficienty potent to provide effective and prolonged protection
- The vaccine must both end up in the right bowel and cross the mucous membranes
MucoProtect is a ground-breaking project within fish vaccinology. We will develop novel, clever vaccines based on nanoparticles, tailored for oral vaccination. The new technology should allow targeted and controlled release of the vaccine. In addition, we will use new tools that provide completely new opportunities for measuring the effects of vaccines, which is essential for rational vaccine development.
MucoProtect is a three year research project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council within the HAVBRUK program. The project is led by the Veterinary Institute and partners in the project are Institute of Marine Research (Havforskningsinstituttet) and SINTEF Industry, Department of Biotechnology and Nanomedicine.