This series provides insights into the global array of companies participating in this challenge as innovators or sponsors.
The 11th of this Spotlight Series focuses on TeOra, one of the eight innovation finalists of this program. In the coming days leading to the grand Finale on the 7th of October, we will profile the other innovations and sponsors of this challenge.
TeOra’s encapsulation technology could revolutionize the global shrimp industry.
(Singapore) TeOra encapsulates proteins in a deep science solution with a view to prevent diseases that cost the global shrimp farming industry billions of dollars every year.
Pathogens such as early mortality syndrome and white spot disease frequently kill up to 50% of shrimp in traditional outdoor farms in a matter of days. Even worse, an outbreak at one farm quickly spreads to others that share the same waterway. The industry currently relies on the liberal application of antibiotics and probiotics to keep losses to disease at manageable levels, but those practices are coming under increasing scrutiny by health conscious consumers.
That backstory is what inspired Rishita Changede and her team of biologists and scientists at TeOra to find a solution to this costly problem.
“There are no good preventive solutions for shrimp farmers,” said founder and CEO Changede, whose childhood growing up by the sea inspired her to enter aquaculture. “With finfish you have an injection-based solution, but for shrimp there is absolutely nothing in the market. And they have a different immune system.”
TeOra’s cutting edge technology could provide an effective oral vaccine that is currently unavailable to shrimp farmers. TeOra designs proteins, and then manufactures them sustainably in microorganisms. These proteins prime the immune system of shrimp to prevent specific diseases. The company encapsulates the proteins so they can be consumed by shrimp grown in ponds.
TeOra’s technology platform draws from advances in several scientific disciplines such as bioinformatics and microfluidics to identify the microorganism best suited to create its proprietary proteins and a delivery mechanism. The product doesn’t involve the use of harmful chemicals and genetically modified organisms.
The technology may prove to have a cutting edge over alternative pathways to oral vaccines, especially those using ribonucleic acid (RNAi) technology to reduce the controversial use of antibiotics. A partnership between New Mexico-based Pebble Labs and French pharmaceutical company Virbac, and a joint-venture between Israel’s ViAqua--funded by seafood giant Thai Union--and Nutreco are among the companies pursuing this approach.
Singapore-based TeOra was one of eight companies selected by The Yield Lab Asia Pacific Global Aquaculture Challenge in April thanks to its innovative technology. That recognition put the TeOra team in touch with biotechnology experts and senior aquaculture executives, which has been invaluable in helping management better understand opportunities in this industry, Changede said.
Singapore-based TeOra is located in the heart of a region responsible for more than 85% of the world’s farmed shrimp production.
TeOra is currently conducting its first tests on farmed shrimp in partnership with major shrimp farming companies in India and Indonesia after completing proof-of-concept testing in the laboratory. TeOra wants to prove that its technology works in actual farms before negotiating distribution or licensing agreements with pharmaceutical companies or even suppliers of functional feeds in regional aquaculture hubs in South Asia.
The company is also preparing its first seed funding round to finance field trials in 2022 with a view to have a commercial product available for sale in 2023. The shrimp industry alone is worth more than $30 billion, and disease is its number one challenge. The value for aquaculture as a whole rises to $250 billion annually, according to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization. Given less than 1% of the world’s farmed fish are vaccinated, that provides a massive opportunity for companies such as TeOra. Changede says that in the future, this proprietary technology might even serve synthetic proteins or humans themselves.
3 Oct 2021.
Matt Craze and Oriana Aguillon, Spheric Research.