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French, US firm to work on white spot virus cure

March 11, 2020  By  Nestor Arellano

American biotechnology company  Pebble Labs USA Inc., and French veterinarian pharmaceutical firm Virbac (VIRP), have signed an agreement to co-develop and commercialize breakthrough solutions for disease prevention in aquaculture.

The two companies will work to bring RNA-based technologies to global large-scale aquaculture and focus on a solution for white spot syndrome virus, a disease that can cause 50 per cent crop loss, according to a press release from Pebble Labs.

Demand for farmed aquaculture is expected to double worldwide by 2030, requiring a 60 per cent growth in production. Approximately 50 per cent of aquaculture crops are lost to disease, resulting in a $50 billion loss each year.


Losses due to the white spot syndrome virus in farmed shrimp alone are estimated to reach up to $3.5 billion each year.

Currently, the aquaculture industry relies heavily on probiotics, synthetic chemicals, and antibiotics to fight the diseases which can be devastating to shrimp farms worldwide. The Pebble Labs Directed Biotics technology uses an animal’s natural immunity with a bacteria and redirects it to suppress white spot syndrome virus.

“Pebble Labs has the first sustainable technology to safely and effectively address the viral pathogens we are facing in large-scale aquaculture,” said Pierre Henning, director of aquaculture division at Virbac. “Working with Pebble Labs to share their solution with farmers is a high priority for our aquaculture division this year, and we are committed to moving this project along quickly.”

Terms of the Joint Development Agreement include executing feasibility studies to validate Pebble Labs technology, solution development plans, regulatory clearance and approval, and discussion of future products and commercial applications in addition to treating white spot syndrome virus in aquaculture.

“Pebble Labs is looking forward to seeing Directed Biotics technology in the pond this year,” said David Morgan, president of Pebble Labs. “This agreement with Virbac moves our revolutionary products toward the market which will reduce the need for antibiotics in food production and improve food security worldwide.”

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