Pebble Labs, Virbac partner to prevent disease in aquaculture

Published on
March 13, 2020

Biotechnology company Pebble Labs has partnered with Carros, France-based Virbac, the world’s seventh-largest veterinarian pharmaceutical group, to co-develop and commercialize solutions for disease prevention in aquaculture.

Demand for farmed aquaculture is expected to double worldwide by 2030, according to Los Alamos, New Mexico, U.S.A.-based Pebble Labs, which will require an increase in production of 60 percent. Currently, approximately 50 percent of aquaculture crops produced each year are lost to disease, resulting in a USD 50 billion (EUR 44.3 billion) loss each year.

Losses due to white spot syndrome in farmed shrimp alone is estimated to reach up to USD 3.5 billion (EUR 3.1 billion) each year – and the syndrome is a key target of the company's research.

The company’s Directed Biotics technology harnesses an animal's natural immunity with a bacteria and redirects it to suppress the virus. Currently, the aquaculture industry relies heavily on probiotics, synthetic chemicals, and antibiotics to fight the diseases.

"Pebble Labs has the first sustainable technology to safely and effectively address the viral pathogens we are facing in large-scale aquaculture," Pierre Henning, director of Virbac’s aquaculture division, said. "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."

The development agreement between the two companies will help execute feasibility studies to validate Pebble Labs’ technology and discuss its commercial applications to treat white spot syndrome virus.

"Pebble Labs is looking forward to seeing Directed Biotics technology in the pond this year," Pebble Labs President David Morgan said. "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."

Pebble Labs finalized the purchase of the New Mexico Consortium Biological Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, for USD 11.5 million (EUR 10.2 million) in September.  

Reporting from Portland, Oregon

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