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Successful safety tests for Moritella phage product

After successful safety tests, a new bacteriophage product against winter ulcers are moving closer.

The bacteriophage research by STIM and sister company ACD Pharma continues, now tackling the bacteria Moritella viscosa that causes winter ulcers. This bacteria caused big problems for fish farmers all along the Norwegian coastline last winter. The effects on fish welfare were grave and earnings dropped due to the inevitable quality down-grade.

The rising number of Moritella outbreaks is linked to changes in the bacteria, making the available vaccines less effective. It is also linked with the widespread use of mechanical sealice treatments on wellboats that may render the skin more vulnerable for infection from the bacteria.

-Field tests remain, but we fully expect the Moritella product to be equally as effective as our first bacteriophage product, says Director of Research & Development Hans Petter Kleppen.

It was somewhat sensational when STIM and sister company ACD Pharma in 2018 launched the world’s first biocontrol product based on bacteriophages. Bacteriophages are naturally occuring viruses that attack and kill their specific target bacteria. They are found everywhere around us, within us and in the food we eat. It is nature’s own biocontrol system, ensuring that no single bacteria become too dominant.

The company´s first bacteriophage product targeted the bacteria causing yersiniosis in salmon and has been shown to be highly effective in removing Yersinia ruckeri from hatchery production water, biofilters and wellboats.

The main use for the Moritella phage product will be as biocontrol during wellboat sealice treatments.

-Wellboat transportation and sealice treatments are stressful for the salmon, which causes it to shed bacteria in great amounts. Analyses of wellwater shows the number of bacteria spiking fast, which of course greatly increases the chances of an outbreak. Adding our Yersinia bacteriophages to the water removes Yersinia ruckeri from the equation, as the number of these bacteria quickly drop to undetectable amounts. Lab results with our Moritella bacteriophages leads us to believe that the effect will be exactly the same for the new product, says Kleppen.

-Developing and getting a new vaccine approved takes a long time and we do not under any circumstances want to go back to using antibiotics in the amounts we did in the 80´s and early 90´s. That is why we have spent the last 12 years doing research on bacteriophages. We knew that we needed new tools in our toolbox and bacteriophages are just that. Together with effective vaccines it will play a major part in reducing the need for antibiotics and thereby reducing the development of antibiotic resistance, which is one of our greatest global health threats, says STIM CEO Jim Roger Nordly.

STIM are working on the regulatory changes needed in order for bacteriophage products to be available in other markets than Norway.

For more on our bacteriophage research and products, visit the website of our sister company ACD Pharma