Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has won the Kaye Innovation award for developing a new way to grow larger fish.
Prof. Levavi-Sivan, a specialist in aquaculture at the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, first identified tiny molecules named Neurokinin B (NKB) and Neurokinin F (NKF) that are secreted by the brains of fish and play a crucial role in their reproduction. She then developed molecules that neutralize the effect of NKB and NKF. The molecules inhibited fish reproduction and consequently led to increased growth rates.
These inhibitors can now be included in fish feed to ensure better growth rates. For example, young tilapia fed the inhibitors in their food supply for two months gained 25% more weight versus fish that did not receive the supplement. So far, NKB has been found in 20 different species of fish, indicating that this discovery could be effective in a wide variety of species.
The technology developed by Prof. Levavi-Sivan and her team was licensed by Yissum, the Technology Transfer company of the Hebrew University, to start-up AquiNovo Ltd., established and operating within the framework of The Trendlines Group. AquiNovo is further developing the technology to generate growth enhancers for farmed fish.
In recognition of her work, Prof. Berta Levavi-Sivan was awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017. The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential, which will benefit the university and society.
More information about the 2017 Kaye Innovations Awards.