A Universiti Malaya Professor has discovered an edible stimulant vaccine to fight White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV), a serious shrimp disease which causes losses amounting to billions of US dollars annually.
Professor Dr Phang Siew Moi, who is leading the research on the vaccine, said it could trigger the immune system in penaeid prawns towards the WSSV, using the VP28 viral coat protein that could protect the prawn from the deadly disease.
She said the prawn was not a genetically-modified organism.
“When the shrimp eats the vaccine, it will start producing immunisation. So, the vaccine just stimulates the immune response.
“It’s interesting. We are not transforming the prawn. We can eat the prawn,” Dr Phang told Bernama yesterday.
She said the finding was the first of its kind in the country and further testing was currently being conducted before it was commercialised.
The RM2 million vaccine formulation research project is funded by the science, technology and innovation ministry and expected to be completed in November, this year.
The project, in collaboration with shrimp farm company Global Satria Sdn Bhd here, began in September 2007.
To date, RM1,012,000 has been disbursed for the project.
Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, who visited the project base here, commended the findings and the research progress, as well as the parties involved.
White Spot Syndrom Virus is currently the most serious viral pathogen of prawns worldwide and can cause up to 100 per cent mortality within seven to 10 days, resulting in losses to prawn farmers.
Losses due to WSSV are estimated at US$1 billion annually, out of the US$13 billion global cultured prawn market.
A solution to WSSV is required if Malaysia is to attain her ambition to be a global player in prawn farming.
If this works on large-scale pond trials, it will be the world’s first algal DNA vaccinne for WSSV.
On the university’s success, Dr Ongkili said: “This project has great potential for commercialisation and can solve high mortality in prawn farms.”