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U.K. scientists to develop oral vaccine against sea lice in farmed Atlantic salmon

February 8, 2024  By Hatchery International staff

A group of scientists led by the Moredun Research Institute has been awarded £1.5 million (US$1.8 million) by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to put an end to salmon lice in farmed Atlantic salmon through the development of an oral vaccine. 

The salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) is an ectoparasite that affects many marine farmed fish species feeding on the mucus, skin, underlying tissues and blood of farmed Atlantic salmon. Salmon louse prevalence and disease have impacted the industry to the tune of £1 billion (US$1.2 billion) annually, according to Moredun’s estimates. 

“By harnessing the power of reverse vaccinology and artificial intelligence, our interdisciplinary team is poised to deliver a practical, safe, and environmentally friendly solution for combating the problem of salmon lice. This vaccine, designed to enhance both systemic and mucosal immune responses in Atlantic salmon, promises not only to bolster the health and welfare of the fish but also to support the sustainable expansion of the Atlantic salmon industry,” said Kim Thompson from Moredun Research Institute.

The development of a commercial salmon louse vaccine will provide a practical, safe, and eco-friendly approach to tackling the issue while also supporting the goal of the Scottish Government to double the value of Atlantic salmon production between 2016 and 2030.


Sean Monaghan of the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture will be conducting and running the vaccine trials and assessing molecular aspects of the parasite at infectious life stages that could be exploited for vaccination. The trials will take place at the University’s Marine Environmental Research Laboratory.

“Through testing combinations of immune-relevant sea lice antigens together, this project will enhance the immunological response to this complex disease agent,” Monaghan said.

This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Moredun Research Institute, the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, Bimeda Animal Health who provided £150,000 (US$189,288) to the project, and Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd.

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