TargetFish is a large collaborative project funded with 6 million euro by the European Commission 7th Framework programme (grant agreement no. 311993). The project will run for 5 years and started autumn 2012.
TargetFish, coordinated by dr. Geert Wiegertjes brings together leading European research groups that are experts on the fish immune system and enterprises from the Biotech and Veterinary sectors that aim to commercialize fish vaccines for European fish farming.
European aquaculture production provides direct employment to 65.000 people with a turnover of 3 billion €. However, the lack of authorised veterinary medicinal products and the consequent disease outbreaks in farmed fish species costs the sector 20% of the production value. The most appropriate method for disease control, both on economical and ethical grounds, is disease prevention by vaccination.
TargetFish will advance the development of existing (but not sufficient) and new prototype vaccines against socio-economically important viral or bacterial pathogens of Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, common carp, sea bass, seabream and turbot. TargetFish will also establish a knowledge- and technology-base for rational development of next generation fish vaccines. The project will develop targeted vaccination strategies for currently sub-optimal and for novel vaccines. Improved vaccines will be brought closer to industrial application by addressing practical issues such as efficacy, safety and delivery route.
TargetFish will 1) generate knowledge by studying antigens and adjuvants for mucosal routes of administration while analyzing the underpinning protective immune mechanisms; 2) validate this knowledge with response assays for monitoring vaccine efficacy and study safety aspects, including those associated with DNA vaccines; 3) approach implementation of prototype vaccines by optimizing vaccination strategies thus 4) shortening the route to exploitation. Thereby, this project will greatly enhance targeted disease prophylaxis in European fish farming.
To achieve these challenging tasks, we brought together 30 partners from 10 EU member states, 2 associated countries and 1 International Cooperation Partner Country (ICPC). In this large multidisciplinary consortium an approximate equal number of RTD and SME partners will cooperate closely while keeping an intensive communication with the large vaccine and nutrition industries via an Industry Forum.