Vaccine against Koi Carp Herpes virus close

U.K. drug discovery company to start field trials in collaboration with the Hagerman Aquaculture Research Institute, Idaho USA.
October 4, 2006

The Board of British drug discovery company, Henderson Morley plc., has announced it has been working on a vaccine against Koi Carp Herpes virus for the past 10 months, and is now ready to start field trials of a candidate vaccine, in a collaboration with the internationally renowned Hagerman Aquaculture Research Institute, Idaho USA., under the supervision of the Institute Director Professor Ron Hardy.

The Directors believe that these initial immunogenicity studies will produce results within six months, that should enable Henderson Morley scientists to optimise the vaccine formulation, with a view to securing a product licence from the veterinary authorities as soon as practicable.

The Board is aware that the time taken to commercialize human products may be significant, so products in the Henderson Morley portfolio targeted at animal health may offer the prospect of nearer term revenue opportunities.

The market for ornamental fish is significant, estimated at 3.5 million homes in the UK1 and 139 million fish in 13 million homes in the US 2, with koi carp species being amongst the most popular and most valuable.

*In 1998, widespread outbreaks of mortality occurred in both fish farms and ornamental ponds - when some 85% to 100% of infected fish died within a few days. It was subsequently discovered that this disease was caused by a newly isolated virus - Koi Herpes Virus (KHV). This virus has now been isolated in at least 28 countries including the USA, Japan and the UK, and it has become a very significant problem for Koi Breeders and enthusiasts. Once infected, a pond will lose the majority of its fish within days, and no treatment or vaccine is currently licensed in the UK.

The impact of KHV is very significant in the Koi keeping and breeding community, with the National Fisheries Laboratory stating in its information notes on Koi herpes virus as provided by the UK Environment Agency for the National Fisheries Laboratory: “Due to the pathogenicity of the virus and difficulties with detection the Environment Agency is very concerned about the potential impact of KHV to carp fisheries within England and Wales”. To assist with the development of the KHV vaccine, the Board is pleased to announce that it has appointed Professor Ronald John Roberts to its Scientific Advisory Board.

Professor Roberts is Professor Emeritus, University of Sterling, Professor of Aquatic Pathobiology and a Hagerman Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Idaho, in addition to being a Scientific Advisor to the Lithgow Group plc, he is Deputy Chairman of the EU’s Food Standards Authority Veterinary Panel. Commenting Andrew Knight, Chairman of Henderson Morley said: “We believe that Animal Health is an important area of development for Henderson Morley and we are very pleased to welcome Professor Roberts to the Scientific Advisory Board. As we concentrate on our Animal Health research programme, his vast experience will be of enormous benefit to the Company and its scientific advisory board”.