Assessing the use of cardiac biomarkers for early diagnostic of cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS)

Project Summary

Project life: 12 months

Anticipated Benefits

Cardiomyopathy Syndrome (CMS), a viral disease, has had a major impact on salmon production. Early diagnosis of this virus is important, and this project looks to identify fish cardiac disease biomarkers and develop a serological test for early diagnosis of CMS in salmon.


Industry Contribution


SAIC Contribution


Academia Contribution


  • Cooke Aquaculture UK
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Life Diagnostics Ltd. 
  • Benchmark Genetics
  • Moredun Research Institute
  • SAIC

Other Information

Cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS), caused by piscine myocarditis virus (PMCV) has had a major impact on Atlantic salmon production, with reported CMS outbreaks increasing dramatically in recent years. Monthly mortality reports compiled by the Scottish Salmon Producers Association show CMS to be one of the main health issues affecting the Scottish industry.

The biggest economic impact of CMS is the loss of apparently healthy fish, dying suddenly of heart failure just before harvest. Early diagnosis of CMS is paramount to enable salmon producers to take steps to avoid losses during this important stage in the production cycle.

In human and veterinary medicine, cardiac disease is detected with cardiac biomarkers, measured using commercial serological kits tests. Knowledge of biomarkers associated with cardiac disease in salmon is limited.

The key objectives of this project are:

  • To identify and validate cardiac disease biomarkers for early / subclinical CMS diagnosis
  • Develop serological tests, such as ELISA and SPARCLâ„¢ (which can potentially be used on the farm) for early diagnosis of CMS, based on easy, cost-effective, non-lethal methods.

Project findings will allow:

  1. Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and then the wider industry to identify CMS in the early / subclinical stages, enabling them to minimise mortalities and reduce economic impact of CMS
  2. Life Diagnostic Ltd. the opportunity to expand into the aquaculture market, with a range of CMS diagnostics
  3. Benchmark Genetics to improve evaluation of CMS resistance stocks, and ultimately provide CMS-resistant stocks to the wider industry
  4. Academia and the wider aquaculture industry and supply chain to access a novel panel of cardiac markers for evaluation of cardiac disease in Atlantic salmon.