One of the major challenges facing the fast-growing aquaculture market is the prevention and treatment of diseases. With the annual loss of shellfish and fish product from diseases reaching nearly 20%, there is a major need for new technologies that prevent or cure aquatic diseases. Current treatment depends primarily on injections, which is costly and not feasible for shellfish and small fish species.
Our Solution & Technology
ViAqua Therapeutics is developing an orally administered particle-based platform for the administration of RNA and protein to improve resistance against viral diseases that attack shrimp and other aquaculture species.
ViAqua’s platform for increasing survival against viral diseases in shellfish and fish utilizes a proprietary RNAi particle formulation. The dsRNA is encapsulated in a polymer and protein-based carrier that contains additional functional molecules for improved uptake. The particle is composed of GRAS (safe and registered) materials.
The Company’s first product is medical feed for the improved resistance to viral diseases in shrimp, with the initial application against the widespread White Spot Shrimp Virus (WSSV).
RNAi is a non-GMO, safe, and proven effective process in which RNA molecules shut down specific genes associated with a virus. ViAqua utilizes a proprietary RNAi particle formulation to trigger a reaction against the virus, thereby causing the RNAi to act as a resistor against the virus.
Challenges of Oral Delivery
ViAqua successfully solved (and overcame) a number of challenges to develop a viable orally administered formulation for the improved prevention of diseases in shrimp and other aquaculture species. The ViAqua platform
1. provides protection of the RNA in the aquatic environment,
2. withstands barriers in the digestive system to ensure effective delivery of the RNA, and
3. integrates the coated particles for delivery via feed or immersion to achieve the maximum effect and to reduce costs.
Achievements: Additional Milestones
Developed particle formulation that protects the RNA in the challenging aquatic environment
Produced particles that can withstand, and pass through, barriers in the digestive system to deliver the RNA
Developed know-how and IP for particle administration to shrimp feed
Conducted double-blind viral challenge experiments in leading certified laboratories in the United States and Thailand that demonstrated strong protection against the lethal WSSV in shrimp injected with RNAi solution: >90% survival in the ViAqua treated shrimp vs. 0% survival in the untreated shrimp
Achieved oral delivery proof of concept (POC) demonstrating significant gene silencing through feeding
The know-how acquired, and innovative technology developed in ViAqua’s first product for shrimp, will advance the development of additional products for other shellfish and fish species.