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A Novel Adjuvant for Aquaculture Vaccines Using Engineered Bacteria Targeting an Immune Pathway

Northeastern researchers have identified a novel adjuvant and invented a delivery system to better fish vaccine formulation

Published: 5th October 2022
A Novel Adjuvant for Aquaculture Vaccines Using Engineered Bacteria Targeting an Immune Pathway


Infectious diseases in fish caused by bacteria and viruses are a significant economic problem for aquaculture around the world. While antibiotics have historically been used to treat diseases caused by bacterial infections, immunization offers an efficient means of preventing numerous infectious diseases without leading to medication resistance or environmental safety issues, as shown by antibiotic overuse. Existing antigens in the market are of two types – inactive or attenuated whole pathogens, and protein or nucleic acid-based subunit vaccines. These existing approaches, however, have several drawbacks that make them unsuitable for use in aquaculture applications. These include weak immunogenicity, and a requirement for oil-based adjuvants that have a precariously high inflammatory response, which result in harmful physiological and morphological consequences in the fish. Some of these consequences are growth penalty, residue issues, adhesion formation and pigmentation around the site of injection. A novel method for vaccine formulation that improves animal welfare while also addressing potency, deploying ease, cost-effectiveness is needed.

Technology Overview

Northeastern researchers have invented a novel vaccine formulation using synthetic biology to co-administer a product with existing inactivated bacterial vaccines. This novel product provides increased protection to the vaccine and the fish, preventing any harmful consequence that may otherwise be caused by other adjuvants. In this technology, programmed E. coli will synthesize a molecule that targets interferon genes. Inactivated E. coli will then be utilized to deliver this molecule along with existing vaccines in the market. The cost of manufacturing is reduced with the use of E. coli, and the molecule targets a pathway that helps mount effective antibody and cellular responses.


  • Novel adjuvant to increase safety and potency of existing vaccines, easily incorporable.
  • Easily deployable, cost-effective method
  • No harmful consequences to fish


  • Seafood industry – especially salmons
  • Supplements industry – higher yield of omega-3 fatty acids through healthier salmons


Seeking licensee and/or industry partners

IP Status
  • Patent application submitted
  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner
  • Licensing