"Oral delivery is the holy grail of aquaculture health development due to both the impossibility of vaccinating individual shrimp and its ability to substantially bring down the operational costs of disease management while improving outcomes," Shai Ufaz, CEO of ViAqua, said in a statement. "We are excited to bring this technology to market to address the need for affordable disease solutions in aquaculture."
mRNA Vaccines Already Used in PigsThe aquaculture industry isn't the only market being targeted with mRNA vaccines. Genvax Technologies, a startup creating mRNA vaccines for animals, secured $6.5 million in funding in 2022 to develop a self-amplifying mRNA (saRNA) platform that allows for rapid development of a herd or flock-specific vaccine matched 100 percent to the circulating variant at the root of a disease outbreak.
Genvax’s technology involves inserting a specific transgene or “gene of interest” matched to the variant strain into the platform. The saRNA then generates an antibody response without requiring the whole pathogen to be matched to the circulating strain.
SEQUIVITY uses electronic gene sequencing to generate RNA particles that, when injected into an animal, provide instructions to immune cells to translate the sequence into proteins that act as antigens, similar to how the COVID-19 vaccine causes the body to generate spike proteins. The idea is that the animal’s immune system, when challenged with the actual live pathogen, will recognize the antigen and be able to respond effectively.
According to Merck, their RNA participle technology allows for the development of a “safe and flexible” custom swine flu vaccine in only eight to 12 weeks compared with traditional vaccines that take years to develop.
mRNA Vaccines in Cattle Raise Concerns Among ProducersAccording to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, mRNA vaccines currently aren't licensed for use in U.S. beef cattle. The vaccines are being developed to treat and prevent diseases in cattle, whose meat could make its way to the dinner table.
In April, R-CALF USA met with doctors and a molecular biologist regarding the status of mRNA injections in the global protein supply chain. Veterinarian Max Thornsberry reported that some researchers have found that mRNA and its coded virus could pass to humans who consume dairy or meat products from an mRNA-injected animal.
Mr. Thornsberry raised concerns about the unknown long-term effects of consuming meat from animals injected with mRNA vaccines and called for more extensive research. Although the United States hasn't yet approved an mRNA vaccine for use in cattle, the country is increasing imports of beef from other countries that either vaccinate cattle with mRNA vaccines or plan to.
“This points to the urgent need for MCOOL (mandatory country of origin labeling),” he said. “Consumers deserve the right to choose whether to consume beef from a country where mRNA injections are being given to cattle, and the only way they can have that choice is if Congress passes MCOOL for beef.”
R-CALF USA plans to develop a policy direction for the organization at an upcoming meeting but “strongly reinforces the need for mandatory country of origin labeling” of beef.
“According to the submission, researchers planned to test the mRNA on cattle during the second year of the project with a completion date of 2026. It would be naïve not to assume that such a research project signals an effort to obtain approval for mRNA injections in U.S. cattle.”
Mr. Bullard encouraged others to not “simply trust the pharmaceutical companies and the government” and said his organization “intends to learn the truth by continuing to disclose differing scientific findings, seeking more research into the long-term effects of mRNA injections for cattle, and demanding more transparency from pharmaceutical companies and the government."