What was the problem?
As the world’s population grows, the aquaculture industry is playing a vital role in ensuring a consistent supply of fish and seafood, a healthy source of protein, via an efficient production method.
Fish ponds typically produce more than ten times as much edible product per m2 as land that is devoted to cattle farming. However, disease outbreaks are responsible for $6 billion annual losses for the aquaculture industry (2014 estimate from the World Bank). Nodavirus, an invasive disease, affects over 120 species of commercially farmed fish.
A new vaccine had been created to prevent the disease, which called for the development of a companion diagnostic which would enable the vaccine to be deployed accurately and provide reassurance to the end user that the vaccine was doing its job.
The diagnostic had to be able to monitor antibody levels in order to determine when repeat vaccine boosters were required. It also needed to measure viral load present in a tissue sample with a reader-free diagnostic platform. Finally, the test had to be low cost and suitable for use in a commercial aquaculture environment.
Mologic developed a vaccine antigen which could be used with custom antibody reagents. A fish ‘pen-side’ sample technique was developed to be used along with the diagnostic test, and a prototype device was created in under 3 months from vaccine antibody reagents.
The prototype devices were successfully tested in a controlled sea trial and met the customer’s requirements for dynamic range and sensitivity limits. Field tests confirmed that the target virus and viral load was able to be detected in target tissues as required in the specification.
“The test developed by Mologic has allowed us to rapid-test and treat for Nodavirus. Without the test we were at risk of losing thousands of fish a year.”