A British pharmacological company is to start field trials for a vaccine against the deadly fish virus KHV.
Henderson Morley PLC, which is based in London, has been working on a vaccine against Koi Herpes Virus for the past 10 months and says it is now ready to start field trials for its candidate vaccine, which it plans to undertake under the supervision of Professor Ron Hardy of the Hagerman Aquaculture Research Institute in Idaho.
Henderson Morley believes that there is a huge and lucrative market for a vaccine against KHV, or Cyprinid Herpes Virus-3 (CyHV-3) as it is now officially known.
Henderson Morley said: "The market for ornamental fish is significant, estimated at 3.5 million homes in the UK and 139 million fish in 13 million homes in the US, with Koi carp species being amongst the most popular and most valuable.
"In 1998, widespread outbreaks of mortality occurred in both fish farms and ornamental ponds - when some 85% to 100% of infected fish died within a few days. It was subsequently discovered that this disease was caused by a newly isolated virus - Koi Herpes Virus (KHV).
"This virus has now been isolated in at least 28 countries including the USA, Japan and the UK, and it has become a very significant problem for Koi Breeders and enthusiasts. Once infected, a pond will lose the majority of its fish within days, and no treatment or vaccine is currently licensed in the UK."
Results in six monthsDirectors behind the field trial believe that the initial immunogenicity studies could yield results in just six months, which Henderson Morley says will allow its scientists to optimise the vaccine formulation and secure a licence for the product allowing them to sell it to veterinary authorities.
Henderson Morley said: "The impact of KHV is very significant in the Koi keeping and breeding community, with the National Fisheries Laboratory stating in its information notes on Koi herpes virus as provided by the UK Environment Agency for the National Fisheries Laboratory: 'Due to the pathogenicity of the virus and difficulties with detection the Environment Agency is very concerned about the potential impact of KHV to carp fisheries within England and Wales'."
The company has appointed Professor Ronald J Roberts, a well-known academic in the aquaculture and fish veterinary medicine field, to assist with the development of the vaccine.