Viva Fish Fish Virus Vaccines

In the Viva Fish (Fish Virus Vaccines) platform project, we aim to generate knowledge, tools and methods that will contribute to better vaccines against viral diseases in farmed fish. The viral diseases we focus on are Pancreas disease (PD), Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI), Cardiomyopathy (CMS) and Infectious salmon anemia (ISA).



The ViVaFish platform bring together ten leading Norwegian researchers from major national fish virology/immunology groups in Oslo, Bergen, and Tromsø. Important scientific contributions to the ViVaFish platform will also be made from national bioinformatic and biotechnological groups, vaccine development companies, and by many international collaborators.

Viral diseases represent a huge problem for the global aquaculture industry, and many viral diseases cannot be effectively controlled using the current generation of vaccines. Therefore, new vaccine strategies need to be developed, and basic scientific issues regarding virus agents, host-virus interactions, and the establishment of long term immune protection need to be addressed. We believe that sustainable and environmentally responsible aquaculture in Norway and worldwide, will require a better understanding of: (i) the immune system in fish; (ii) the interaction between viruses and hosts; (iii) the biological basis for protection; and (iv) the development of more effective viral vaccines. The data generated in ViVaFish will serve as an initial step towards a systems vaccinology approach, where the data generated will be fed back into future vaccine design and optimization of delivery systems and antigen formulations.


Some subgoals:

Identification of specific functions of virus proteins and genomic structures important for vaccine development, and development of live attenuated and replicon vaccines

Identification of host proteins involved in the binding and entry of viruses.

Determine the effect of IFN as adjuvant in the adaptive immune response of Atlantic salmon against different virus proteins.

Determine mRNA signatures of protective responses by transcriptome analysis of tissue after administration of virus protein and/or IFN- and/or virus protein- expressing plasmids.

Analysing CTL activity in muscle following DNA vaccination.

Characterization of available anti-salmon Abs and development of new reagents for immunophenotyping of B- and T- cells, and immune response monitoring.

Characterization of short and long term B-cell responses induced by vaccination.

Develop assays to better understand B-cell responses.

Optimization of delivery systems

Assays for long-lasting antiviral immunity

More about the project

Researchers with wide experience in fish virology and - immunology from Norwegian University of Life Sciences, University of Tromsø, Institute of Marine Research and Norwegian Veterinary Institute take part in Viva Fish. Better control of viral diseases in aquaculture will be a significant contribution to the future ecological, environmental and ethical sustainability.
When developing new viral vaccines used a broad approach will be used in Viva Fish. An optimal vaccine will first stimulate the fish's innate immune response that will provide a short-term protection while helping to involve the adaptive immune response that again will provide a long-lasting protective immunity. At the same time there should be minimal side effects due to the vaccination.
The cellular adaptive immune response is important for protection against many viral diseases, and it is difficult to initiate such a response using inactivated (killed) vaccines. In Viva Fish, we try to produce live attenuated virus variants and self-replicating nucleic acid vaccine, assuming that these will be better suited for achieving prolonged cellular adaptive immune response. However vaccine models with inactivated whole virus particles, virus like particles (VLPs) and recombinantly produced subunits of the virus will also be tested in combination with various adjuvants and immune signal transmitters in order to achieve better immunity.
Studies of interaction between vaccine candidates and the host immune system will be a central theme in Viva Fish platform. It may be a major methodological improvement if one could estimate the degree of long-term protection by characterizing salmon responses after immunization. In Viva Fish great emphasis is placed on trying to identify functional signature responses which may indicate long-term protection. Such signatures may reduce the number
of fish needed in future vaccine testing. Therefore, studies of diversity and specificity of B cells which are involved in long-term protection; phenotypic profiles of salmon antibody responses; and cytotoxic T-cell's ability to control virus infections in salmon, are important parts of Viva Fish.

Immunization and subsequent infection experiments for the relevant diseases will be tested when assumed good vaccine candidates are available. Such efforts will not only study the degree of protection, but also include immune response measurements and evaluation of various routes of administration of vaccines, such as by injection or through mucous membranes.


The PIs represent four national institutions of Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø, and have broad scientific and administrative experience in various aspects of fish disease research. A ViVaFish Scientific Advisory Board will be established.