Shrimp have become the latest addition to a growing list of food sources targeted by mRNA gene therapy technology. An Israeli company seeking to bring mRNA vaccines to shrimp farming has raised $8.25 million from a group of venture capitalists to promote and improve animal health in marine species through its orally administered RNA-particle platform.
ViAqua, a biotechnology company, created an RNA-based vaccine product that uses ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) to manipulate gene expression in shrimp. RNAi is a biological process where RNA molecules are used to inhibit gene expression or translation by neutralizing targeted mRNA molecules.
The vaccine comes in the form of a coated feed supplement designed to enhance resistance to white spot syndrome virus (WSSV)–a viral infection that causes an annual loss of about $3 billion and a 15 percent reduction in global shrimp production. ViAqua suggests RNA molecules can inhibit the expression of genes that cause disease with every meal containing its coated product.