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Viral immunity and vaccines

In our research group we investigate immun responses agains viral disease and how immuno-stimulants can be used to enhance the effect of vaccines against disease in finfish aquaculture

About our research

Repeated outbreaks of a number of viral diseases in finfish aquaculture both reduce animal welfare and economic results every year. Due to good vaccines against bacterial disease the use of antibiotics has been reduced dramatically since 1990. Vaccines against viral disease based on the same principles (inactivated pathogen formulated with a oil/water adjuvant) does not confer sufficient protection, so there is a strong demand for more knowledge about fish immunity against viral infections


Innate immune responses against viral pathogens in fish

To gain more understanding about immune responses against pathogenic viruses we investigate biochemical and transcriptional changes in cell cultures infected with pathogenic viruses like ISAV, IPN and VHSV. By comparing these changes with alterations induced by various immunostimulatory agents like poly(I:C), LPS  and ODN we hope to identify agents(adjuvants) that can be used in more efficient vaccines against viral diseases.

Toll like receptors (TLRs)

TLR are membrane proteins recognizing pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMP) leding to initiation of inflammatory signaling in the infected tissue or cell. Activation of the various TLRs induce specific transcriptional programs leading to secretion of cytokines and interleukins. In addition, TLR activation induce a range of effector molecules important for defense against the invading pathogen. Of particular interest for our group is TLR3 and its activation by double stranded RNA like poly(I:C). 

Vaccines based on nanoparticles

Existing vaccines against viral disease in fish does not provide sufficient protection. We are currently testing new formulations based on encapsulation of immunostimulatory agents like poly(I:C) in biodegradable nanoparticles made from PLGA or chitosan. Particles are efficiently taken up by macrophages and dendritic cells leading to enhanced effect of the stimulants and a possibility for targeted delivery of antigens. Encapsulating protein antigens in a matrix will also enable new routes of administration (like putting the vaccine into the feed) to be explored



We have an ongoing cooperation with scientists at University of Oslo (Kjemisk Institutt, Institutt for Biovitenskap) And groups at NMBU/NOFIMA.

Tags: virus, vaccines, adjuvant, aquaculture, salmon, zebrafish, ISAV, VHSV, IPNV, poly(I:C), chitosan
Published Mar. 17, 2015 1:35 PM - Last modified Oct. 14, 2016 4:01 PM


Professor Tor Gjøen