This project, funded by the European Eurostars-2 program, aims at improving disease monitoring of farmed fishes for two important viral infections through the development of a fast, cost-effective, user-friendly, and in-field screening test.

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia and Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis are serious diseases affecting various marine and freshwater fish species, including trout and Atlantic salmon. Both infections are highly contagious and responsible for high losses in fish farms, with mortality reaching up to 90-95% in young fish. Disease prevention and management are therefore fundamental for the sustainability of the European aquaculture industry. Currently, state-of-the art diagnostic methods are however expensive (~50 EUR/sample) and long (2-3 weeks), precluding fish farmers from taking appropriate actions in due time. Fishguard will allow early and rapid detection of these threatening fish viruses, therefore improving productivity, economic performance, and image of the European aquaculture through improved biosecurity, health and welfare of farmed fish.

Fishguard will be developed together with two European SMEs, Bioscientia and BIOTEM, which have expertise in immunoassays as well as in the development of antibodies and lateral flow tests. HEIG-VD, which is part of the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland, will contribute bioinformatics and machine learning methods to optimize antibody generation. The project will result in a product prototype, eventually leading to commercial implementation at the European level.

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