MSU researchers secure competitive USDA grant

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> STARKVILLE, Miss.–The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine has received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide practical, effective solutions to issues facing the aquaculture industry.
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> An MSU-CVM research team was one out of only four groups chosen from more than 50 submitted proposals to USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is the first time USDA-NIFA has granted such funding through their newly established Aquaculture Research program. The goal of the funded research is to support the development of new science-based information and innovation to address current aquaculture industry constraints.
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> Principal investigator Attila Karsi and his colleagues including Dr. Mark Lawrence, MSU-CVM associate dean for research, will use the grant award to study new vaccine candidates for Edwardsiella ictaluri, one of the most important pathogens affecting the state’s channel catfish aquaculture industry. The pathogen does not pose a threat to human health but causes high mortality in catfish populations. Karsi will be testing several vaccine candidates to identify the best vaccination regimen using the most effective vaccine candidate.
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> “The Mississippi catfish industry is the largest in the U.S. and we strive to give the catfish industry more tools to effectively deal with the disease problem in their catfish production facilities,” Karsi said. “We are grateful USDA has placed so much emphasis on the importance of our nation’s aquaculture industry and is funding the catfish research.”
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> The novel vaccine candidates will be tested over a period of two years, and the mechanisms in which the vaccines work also will be studied. Dr. Lesya Pinchuk, MSU-CVM associate professor and immunologist, will investigate the immunological responses to vaccination.
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> “We will be seeing what immunological responses correspond with effective vaccines,” Pinchuk said. “Catfish immunology is relatively unexplored, so we think this is an important factor to consider and provides additional information about how these vaccines really protect the fish and what factors are at play to cause immune response.”
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> Karsi appreciates the contribution of catfish industry to the Mississippi’s economy. “Catfish diseases have always been a priority for us and we are thankful that a national agency also supports this important industry,” Karsi said. “We simply want to provide catfish producers with the best vaccine.”