Wed, Oct 17, 2007 - Page 2 News List

University inks fish vaccine deal

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY National Cheng Kung University's chancellor said the agreement with a firm in the Middle East would boost the nation's fishery industry

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

National Cheng Kung University signed a deal with a Middle East-based firm yesterday to improve aquacultural quality in the Red Sea by using an oral vaccine for fish developed at the school.

University chancellor Michael Lai (賴明詔) said the collaboration represents a lucrative business opportunity for Taiwan's fishing industry as well as recognition of its aquacultural research and development technology.

Lead researcher Yang Huey-lang (楊惠郎), a professor with the school's Institute of Biotechnology, said the award-winning oral vaccine developed by his team eight years ago has a higher efficacy rate of 86 percent survivability compared with a European rival's 64 percent survivability.

Yang said antibiotics used to be injected directly into fish to deter disease, but such methodswere costly and time consuming.

To boost efficiency, his team developed a new vaccine delivery system that implants the vaccine in the biotic feedstuff fed to the brine shrimp eaten by the fish.

The new vaccine delivery system is very efficient because it can vaccinate a large mass of fish in less than 20 minutes, he said.

It has been successful on more than 60,000 groupers and cobia in the past three years, he said.

Yang said he hopes to develop more vaccines to fight against other fish diseases.

James Greenberg, the director of the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia-based venture-development firm DevCorp, said the vaccine was the "savior" of the aquacultural industry because people no longer want antibiotic-laced fish on their dinner tables.

He said Taiwan has one of the best aquaculture technology bases in the world, but volatile weather, industrial pollution and the lack of usable coast line has hampered the expansion of the Taiwanese aquacultural industry.

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea is a prime location for fish farms because of its pristine water, calm weather, and low-cost land, he said. Moreover, the bacteria count in the Red Sea is 100 times less than Taiwanese waters, he said.

Yang said his team is collaborating with a local firm to export the oral vaccines and the vaccinated fish larvae to Saudi Arabia.

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