One of the challenges to aquaculture is that reproduction, as an energy intensive endeavour, makes fish grow more slowly. To solve this problem, Prof Berta Levavi-Sivan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem identified tiny molecules named Neurokinin B (NKB) and Neurokinin F (NKF) that are secreted by the brains of fish and play a crucial role in their reproduction. She developed molecules that neutralise the effect of NKB and NKF. The molecules inhibited fish reproduction and consequently led to increased growth rates.
These inhibitors can now be included in fish feed to ensure better growth rates. For example, young tilapia fed the inhibitors in their feed supply for 2 months gained 25% more weight versus fish that did not receive the supplement. So far, NKB has been found in 20 different species of fish, indicating that this discovery could be effective in a wide variety of species.
The technology developed by Prof Levavi-Sivan and her team was licensed by Yissum, the Technology Transfer company of the Hebrew University, to start-up AquiNovo Ltd., established and operating within the framework of The Trendlines Group. AquiNovo is further developing the technology to generate growth enhancers for farmed fish.
Source: Hebrew University of Jerusalem