Shrimp are slated to become the latest food source exposed to messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines, courtesy of ViAqua Therapeutics, an Israeli-based biotechnology startup. The company has secured $8.25 million in funding from venture capitalists for its oral RNA-based shrimp vaccine, which is intended to target white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), according to Dr. Mercola.
According to an analysis by Mercola there are plans to administer its RNA-based product via coated feed, he writes “ViAqua suggests the RNA molecules can inhibit gene expression, silencing disease-affected genes with every meal.1 WSSV is a devastating condition in shrimp, leading to a 15% reduction in global shrimp production each year — an annual loss of about $3 billion.”2
Dr Mercolas‘ analysis is below:
ViAqua says challenge tests show its RNA-based formulation improved shrimp survival against WSSV, but at what cost? The use of mRNA in the food supply is controversial for good reason — no one knows what the long-term consequences will be.
RNA Vaccines Coming for Shrimp
ViAqua is using RNA interference (RNAi) particles, provided as a feed supplement, to manipulate gene expression in shrimp, one of the most widely consumed forms of seafood worldwide. In a 2022 proof of concept study that used a polyanhydride nanoparticle delivery platform to deliver RNA to shrimp orally, it’s stated:3
“RNA interference (RNAi) in invertebrates is an antiviral cellular mechanism by which a trigger, such as double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or small interfering RNA (siRNA) starts sequence-specific degradation of target mRNA, thereby preventing viral gene expression.
… In aquaculture systems, the concept of RNAi-based vaccines has been championed for several reasons: (a) RNAi works as an antiviral immune response in shrimp; (b) it is pathogen-specific; and (c) it generates a long-term protective immune response.”
The study found that the “nanovaccine” was about 80% effective in protecting against WSSV in shrimp, when administered via reverse gavage to “mimic an oral route.”4 ViAqua has brought the potential for oral delivery to the next level, with plans to begin producing its RNAi capsule products in India in 2024.5 Shai Ufaz, ViAqua’s chief executive officer, stated:6
“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 … We are excited to bring this technology to market to address the need for affordable disease solutions in aquaculture.”