June 11, 2018
Lumen Bioscience Wins USDA Grant to Develop Oral Vaccine to Protect Farmed Fish
Lumen to use unique, low cost Spirulina biotech production and delivery platform to expand into aquaculture
Seattle, WA—May 30, 2018—Lumen Bioscience, a Seattle company developing novel biologics on its proprietary Spirulina expression platform, announced today that it has been awarded a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to continue development of a low-cost, oral vaccine to protect farmed salmonid fish (salmon and rainbow trout) against the infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV). IHNV has spread worldwide and is fatal to fish, slowing growth of on an increasingly important global food supply and costing millions in lost sales of farmed fish.
There are currently vaccines against IHNV on the market, but remarkably, the current vaccination approach requires needle injection of fish, one by one. Lumen’s Spirulina-based vaccines are designed for oral administration, greatly simplifying distribution and administration since they are intended to be mixed in with the normal food supply. In addition, Lumen’s recombinant vaccines and other biologics can be manufactured for pennies per dose or less, making them commercially viable in a large-scale industry like fish farming. Orally delivered recombinant vaccines have been successfully demonstrated by various groups, including Lumen with its malaria vaccine construct, and preliminary data in IHNV was previously generated by the Lumen team. In the first phase of the project, Lumen will partner with the John L. Fryer Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Oregon State University to test the vaccine constructs against IHNV in trout.
“Aquaculture is the fastest growing segment of the global food industry, and plays an ever more critical role in feeding the world’s population and reducing our reliance on dwindling wild fisheries stocks,” said Brian Finrow, CEO and co-founder of Lumen. “Successful development of our Spirulina based vaccine against the IHNV virus will enhance food security and increase access to healthy food in the US and the world.”
The USDA grant is part of the agency’s efforts to promote sustainable American agriculture production and export, along with the development of new trade products based on emerging technologies. An effective vaccine against IHNV would help boost aquaculture world-wide as well as hatcheries and fisheries run by native tribes and municipalities in the US.
Initial field testing under the grant will be conducted at Oregon State University’s John L. Fryer Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory, led by Professor Jerri Bartholomew. “Development of an inexpensive oral vaccine for IHNV has the potential to save millions of fish, and Oregon State University is excited to be part of research that could improve the health of salmon and trout cultured for both food and conservation,” said Dr. Bartholomew.
Expansion of Lumen’s Spirulina biotech platform into aquaculture represents growing recognition of its low-cost, versatile research and commercial benefits. In January Lumen announced a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded to develop low- cost therapeutics for newborns and infants in developing countries. Recently the NIH also awarded a grant to Lumen to continue development of its malaria vaccine using its Spirulina technology.
According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, wild fish harvests plateaued in the 1980s while production of farmed fish has surged, surpassing wild-caught volumes around 2011.
Lumen Bioscience is the first company to successfully use modern biotechnology tools in Spirulina, a blue-green algae that is widely grown for use in food, cosmetics and nutritional supplements. Lumen’s tools and methods use Spirulina to make high-value proteins and other molecules for healthcare, food, cosmetics and industry. Traditional biotech platforms, many based on yeast and E. coli, have proven unsuitable for the large-scale production of certain classes of proteins and other biologics. Lumen’s Spirulina technology provides an important new production platform for the biotechnology industry. For more information about Lumen please visit our website: www.lumen.bio.
Opus Biotech Communications
Dan Eramian, +1-425-306-8716