Shrimp are slated to become the latest food source exposed to messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines, courtesy of ViAqua Therapeutics, an Israeli-based biotechnology startup.

The company has secured $8.25 million in funding from venture capitalists for its oral RNA-based shrimp vaccine, which is intended to target white spot syndrome virus (WSSV).

With plans to administer its RNA-based product via coated feed, ViAqua suggests the RNA molecules can inhibit gene expression, silencing disease-affected genes with every meal.1 WSSV is a devastating condition in shrimp, leading to a 15% reduction in global shrimp production each year — an annual loss of about $3 billion.2

ViAqua says challenge tests show its RNA-based formulation improved shrimp survival against WSSV, but at what cost? The use of mRNA in the food supply is controversial for good reason — no one knows what the long-term consequences will be.

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