BRINGING EUROPEAN FUNDED AQUACULTURE RESEARCH TO MARKET: SUNDEW, A VENTURE RESULTING FROM PARAFISHCONTROL, RAISES €1.4M IN SEED FINANCING

Press release: 28 September 2020
Source: Sundew

Sundew ApS, an innovative bioventure targeting aquatic pests and diseases, has received DKK 10 million (€1.34 million) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s BioInnovation Institute (BII) and €85,000 from the StartLife incubator in the Netherlands. This funding will allow Sundew to bring its first product, for the treatment of the fish disease ‘Ich’, to market.

Aquatic pests and diseases are a major and growing global problem. As we become more and more reliant on the oceans for food and natural resources, humans have an ever-increasing impact on aquatic ecosystems, ranging from the open seas to groundwater. Preventing, treating and managing water transmitted pests, parasites, diseases and invasive species is vital for the health and sustainability of our aquatic resources.

In particular, there is an urgent need for effective, affordable and environmentally-benign products that can replace the often toxic and non-biodegradable chemicals that are currently used. Sundew is developing a range of biological technology platforms to enable the creation, optimisation, and delivery of cost-effective, robust products with small environmental footprints.

Sundew’s most advanced technology was initially developed under the EU Horizon 2020 project, ParaFishControl by scientists at the Dutch Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) in Wageningen and the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Sundew has a world-wide, exclusive licence to the technology and to sell associated products. “We are delighted to see this investment in tools to tackle aquatic pests and diseases and proud of the role that ParaFishControl research played in helping to develop Sundew’s products. It is a great example of talented, multi-disciplinary partners coming together to tackle some of the challenges facing both European and international aquaculture industry” said Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, ParaFishControl project coordinator.

Sundew’s first product addresses outbreaks of ‘Ich’ (lchthyophthirius multifiliis, also known as fish white spot disease). Ich is a parasite that affects freshwater fish, including seven of the eleven most important finfish aquaculture species (such as carp, tilapia and catfish) [1]. It also affects many well-known ‘ornamental’ species that are found in major display and research aquariums, ornamental ponds or are kept as pets. The funding announced today will allow Sundew to bring this product to market for the ornamental sector.

Earlier this year, Sundew was awarded €0.8M from the Danish government’s green fund, GUDP, to develop this same product for use by trout farmers, where ‘Ich’ is a major seasonal problem.

Neil Goldsmith, chairman of Sundew, welcomed the investment saying, “this funding will enable Sundew to develop our lead product all the way to market. It is an excellent opportunity to work with two organisations, each outstanding in its area, to build a company of lasting value”.

Christian Brix Tillegreen, Senior Business Developer at BioInnovation Institute, who will be working with the company, said: “Sundew uses biology to tackle pests and diseases that live in water and addresses a huge unmet need in the fast-growing agriculture market, as well as human health and ecological problems. Sundew’s products could help the transformation towards more sustainable industries. I am excited to work with the experienced start-up team of founders and experts and look forward to supporting their development towards the market”.

Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife, said, “It’s really pleasing to see one of our 2019 graduate companies making such excellent progress, especially given the technology link to Wageningen. We always felt that Sundew’s approach was compelling. All of us here at StartLife are very glad to have played a part in supporting their early development.”

[1] Freshwater fish account for nearly 90% of all farmed fish (by volume) and more than 40% of all aquaculture (FAO statistics http://www.fao.org/state-of-fisheries-aquaculture)

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ParaFishControl final results shared in online webinar

 News Update: 25 March 2020

ParaFishControl held its final event via an online webinar on 11 March 2020. The event, which focused on innovative strategies to control parasites in aquaculture farms, was moved online for safety reasons amidst the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The webinar was attended by aquaculture experts from industry, research institutions, policy and potential investors. The meeting organisers appreciated the flexibility and enthusiasm of participants in how they adapted to the online setting. Highlighting the success of the meeting, Dr Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, ParaFishControl coordinator said,

“Reorganising the event as an online webinar has been a great success, with more than 200 participants from 45 countries able to attend as a result”.

Five sessions showcased solutions developed by ParaFishControl partners over the project’s five-year duration. These covered topics including: current strategies used to fight parasitic diseases in farmed fish, processes needed to approve new treatments and vaccines in Europe, EU funded research and the new instruments that will be available in future, strategies to help fish farmers to control parasitic diseases in their farms and the new tools and strategies developed within the project to prevent, diagnose and treat parasitic diseases at farm level.

Despite the challenges posed by reorganising the event virtually, participants were undeterred, with healthy debate and discussion facilitated via the Zoom platform. Final discussions focussed on the need for future funding to move project results to the market.

All presentations are now available to watch in full below.

Agenda

Session 1 - Setting the Scene

European funded research in Aquaculture diseases in H2020 and next instruments in Horizon Europe - Dr Miguel Lizaso, European Commission. Watch video / Download presentation

Impact of Parasitic Diseases in European Aquaculture - Dr Andrea Fabris, API Director and Chairman of the Fish Health and Welfare Commission of FEAP. Download presentation

Current Treatments Used in Aquaculture and Processes to Approve New Substances - Dr Hanne Christophersen, Director Regulatory Affairs, PHARMAQ part of Zoetis. Watch video / Download presentation

Current Use, and Need for New Vaccines for Finfish Aquaculture - Dr Paul J. Midtlyng, Aquamedic. Watch video / Download presentation

ParaFishControl: Advanced Tools and Research Strategies for Parasite Control in European Farmed Fish - Dr Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, IATS-CSIC. Watch video / Download presentation

Session 2 - New Tools and Strategies for Aquaculture Farm Managers

Introduction to the ParaFishControl New Tools and Strategies for Farmers - Dr Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, IATS-CSIC. Watch video / Download presentation

Integrated Pest Management Strategies (IPMS) for Selected Parasites: Neoparamoeba perurans (Amoebic gill disease-AGD) - Dr James Bron, University of Stirling. Watch video / Download presentation

Integrated Pest Management Strategies (IPMS) for Selected Parasites: Enteromyxum leei - Dr Carla Piazzon, IATS-CSIC. Watch video / Download presentation

Economic Model for Mediterranean Fish Parasites - Dr Alastair Cook, CEFAS. Watch video / Download presentation

Risk Factors for Emerging Parasites: The Enterospora nucleophila Example -  Dr Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, IATS-CSIC. Watch video / Download presentation

Manuals for Farm Managers to Handle Parasites in their Aquaculture Farms - Dr Panos Christofilogiannis, AQUARK. Watch video / Download presentation

Towards an Improved Image of Aquaculture Products Regarding Food Safety - Dr Miguel Ángel Pardo, AZTI. Watch video / Download presentation

Session 3 – ParaFishControl Innovative Methods and Tools to Diagnose Parasites in Aquaculture Farms

ParaFishControl New Diagnostic Methods and Tools for Parasitic Diseases - Dr Oswaldo Palenzuela, IATS-CSIC. Watch video / Download presentation

Innovative Solutions to Improve Fish Health in Aquaculture: From Diagnostics to Vaccines - Dr Ayham Anabulsi, Vertebrate Antibodies. Watch video / Download presentation

Session 4 – ParaFishControl Prevention Strategies to Deal with Parasitic Diseases in Aquaculture Farms

ParaFishControl New Strategies to Prevent Parasitic Diseases in European Aquaculture Farms - Dr James Bron, University of Stirling. Watch video / Download presentation

Development of a universal vaccine against Philasterides dicentrarchi - Dr Jesús Lamas, University of Santiago de Compostela. Watch video / Download presentation

A recombinant vaccine targeting Ichthyophthirius multifiliis - Dr Kurt Buchman, University of Copenhagen. Watch video / Download presentation

Working towards a vaccine against Sphaerospora molnari - Dr Astrid Holzer, Biology Centre CAS. Watch video / Download presentation

Functional feed additives to reduce the impact of Enteromyxum leei - Dr Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, IATS-CSIC. Watch video / Download presentation

Session 5 – ParaFishControl New Treatments for Parasitic Diseases in European Aquaculture Farms

ParaFishControl New Treatments for Parasitic Diseases in European Aquaculture Farms - Dr Kurt Buchman, University of Copenhagen. Watch video / Download presentation

Biological Control of Ichthyophthirius multifiliis - Dr Andy Gardiner, Sundew. Watch video / Download presentation

Alternative treatments against Ceratothoa oestroides and Sparicotyle chrysophrii - Dr Ivona Mladineo, IZOR. Watch video / Download presentation

Alternative treatments against Saprolegnia - Dr Perla Tedesco, University of Bologna. Watch video / Download presentation

NEW ParaFishControl article "Disruption of gut integrity and permeability contributes to enteritis in a fish-parasite model: a story told from serum metabolomics"

Background
In the animal production sector, enteritis is responsible for serious economic losses, and intestinal parasitism is a major stress factor leading to malnutrition and lowered performance and animal production efficiency. The effect of enteric parasites on the gut function of teleost fish, which represent the most ancient bony vertebrates, is far from being understood. The intestinal myxozoan parasite Enteromyxum leei dwells between gut epithelial cells and causes severe enteritis in gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata), anorexia, cachexia, growth impairment, reduced marketability and increased mortality.

Methods
This study aimed to outline the gut failure in this fish-parasite model using a multifaceted approach and to find and validate non-lethal serum markers of gut barrier dysfunction. Intestinal integrity was studied in parasitized and non-parasitized fish by immunohistochemistry with specific markers for cellular adhesion (E-cadherin) and tight junctions (Tjp1 and Cldn3) and by functional studies of permeability (oral administration of FITC-dextran) and electrophysiology (Ussing chambers). Serum samples from parasitized and non-parasitized fish were analyzed using non-targeted metabolomics and some significantly altered metabolites were selected to be validated using commercial kits.

Results
The immunodetection of Tjp1 and Cldn3 was significantly lower in the intestine of parasitized fish, while no strong differences were found in E-cadherin. Parasitized fish showed a significant increase in paracellular uptake measured by FITC-dextran detection in serum. Electrophysiology showed a decrease in transepithelial resistance in infected animals, which showed a diarrheic profile. Serum metabolomics revealed 3702 ions, from which the differential expression of 20 identified compounds significantly separated control from infected groups in multivariate analyses. Of these compounds, serum inosine (decreased) and creatine (increased) were identified as relevant and validated with commercial kits.

Conclusions
The results demonstrate the disruption of tight junctions and the loss of gut barrier function, a metabolomic profile of absorption dysfunction and anorexia, which further outline the pathophysiological effects of E. leei.

Check out all ParaFishControl publications here

NEW ParaFishControl article "Evidence for the role of extrusomes in evading attack by the host immune system in a scuticociliate parasite"

Like other ciliates, Philasterides dicentrarchi, the scuticociliate parasite of turbot, produces a feeding-only or growing stage called a trophont during its life cycle. Exposure of the trophonts to heat-inactivated serum extracted from the turbot host and containing specific antibodies that induce agglutination/immobilization leads to the production of a mucoid capsule from which the trophonts later emerge. We investigated how these capsules are generated, observing that the mechanism was associated with the process of exocytosis involved in the release of a matrix material from the extrusomes. The extruded material contains mucin-like glycoproteins that were deposited on the surface of the cell and whose expression increased with time of exposure to the heat-inactivated immune serum, at both protein expression and gene expression levels. Stimulation of the trophonts with the immune serum also caused an increase in discharge of the intracellular storage compartments of calcium necessary for the exocytosis processes in the extrusomes. The results obtained suggest that P. dicentrarchi uses the extrusion mechanism to generate a physical barrier protecting the ciliate from attack by soluble factors of the host immune system. Data on the proteins involved and the potential development of molecules that interfere with this exocytic process could contribute to improving the prevention and control of scuticociliatosis in turbot.

Check out all ParaFishControl publications here

NEW ParaFishControl article "Comparative Therapeutic Effects of Natural Compounds Against Saprolegnia spp. (Oomycota) and Amyloodinium ocellatum (Dinophyceae)"

The fish parasites Saprolegnia spp. (Oomycota) and Amyloodinium ocellatum (Dinophyceae) cause important losses in freshwater and marine aquaculture industry, respectively. The possible adverse effects of compounds used to control these parasites in aquaculture resulted in increased interest on the search for natural products with antiparasitic activity. In this work, eighteen plant-derived compounds (2′,4′-Dihydroxychalcone; 7-Hydroxyflavone; Artemisinin; Camphor (1R); Diallyl sulfide; Esculetin; Eucalyptol; Garlicin 80%; Harmalol hydrochloride dihydrate; Palmatine chloride; Piperine; Plumbagin; Resveratrol; Rosmarinic acid; Sclareolide; Tomatine, Umbelliferone, and Usnic Acid) have been tested in vitro. Sixteen of these were used to determine their effects on the gill cell line G1B (ATCC®CRL-2536™) and on the motility of viable dinospores of Amyloodinium ocellatum, and thirteen were screened for inhibitory activity against Saprolegnia spp. The cytotoxicity results on G1B cells determined that only two compounds (2′,4′-Dihydroxychalcone and Tomatine) exhibited dose-dependent toxic effects. The highest surveyed concentrations (0.1 and 0.01 mM) reduced cell viability by 80%. Upon lowering the compound concentration the percentage of dead cells was lower than 20%. The same two compounds revealed to be potential antiparasitics by reducing in a dose-dependent manner the motility of A. ocellatum dinospores up to 100%. With respect to Saprolegnia, a Minimum Inhibitory Concentration was found for Tomatine (0.1 mM), Piperine and Plumbagin (0.25 mM), while 2′,4′-Dihydroxychalcone considerably slowed down mycelial growth for 24 h at a concentration of 0.1 mM. Therefore, this research allowed to identify two compounds, Tomatine and 2′,4′-Dihydroxychalcone, effective against both parasites. These compounds could represent promising candidates for the treatment of amyloodiniosis and saprolegniosis in aquaculture. Nevertheless, further in vitro and in vivo tests are required in order to determine concentrations that are effective against the considered pathogens but at the same time safe for hosts, environment and consumers.

Check out all ParaFishControl publications here


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