TechAccel announced the launch of RNAissance Ag LLC, a new company that holds the exclusive license to RNA-interference technology in partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO. The new company will use the proprietary technology in the development of sprayable insect control measures.
TechAccel also announced it participated in GreenLight Biosciences Inc. ’s latest funding round, with an interest in collaborative research leveraging GreenLight’s technology in advancing biopesticides.
“We are demonstrating the potential of RNAi technology to develop into a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to chemical pesticides,” said Michael Helmstetter, Ph.D., founder, president and CEO of TechAccel.
“An RNAi pesticide is highly specific to the target insect and is not toxic to other organisms,” he said. “Further, we believe biopesticides can be more effectively applied than chemical sprays, reducing cost, waste and health risks to workers and the environment.”
RNAissance Ag, which is pronounced “Renaissance,” was formed following successful research at the Danforth Center funded with TechAccel’s first grant in the “Path to Commercialization” Program. The Danforth Center is one of the world’s leading independent plant science research institutes.
The RNAi technology was jointly developed by Bala Venkata, Ph.D., senior research scientist and Nigel Taylor, Ph.D., associate member, and Dorothy J. King Distinguished Investigator at the Danforth Center.
“More than $40 billion per year is spent on pest control, yet over 20 percent of all crops are still lost due to insect damage,” said James C. Carrington, Ph.D., president of the Danforth Center. “ This new company is evidence of an exciting new technology advancing toward market with the potential to make a major impact.”
The two actions are part of TechAccel’s broad strategy to develop safe, effective and sustainable biopesticides to address global crop losses from pests. TechAccel disclosed select additional biopesticide research and development occurring along several fronts:
Leveraging a stable nanoparticle technology licensed as a form of biopesticide delivery;Piloting the injection of RNAi compounds as a delivery mechanism in fruit and nut trees; and,Continuing development of a separate, novel RNAi biopesticide approach based on research underway in Europe.
TechAccel also recently announced collaborative research with AgroSpheres Inc. to explore nanotechnology in biopesticide delivery.
TechAccel, the Kansas City-based technology and venture development company, disclosed these elements of its RNAi portfolio to provide context for public filings of its investments with GreenLight Biosciences and the formation of RNAissance Ag.
GreenLight Biosciences, based in Medford, Mass., is a biotechnology company developing bioprocessed RNA products for healthcare and agriculture applications, including biopesticides. The company announced its $50 million Series round earlier this month. Details of TechAccel’s share of the investment were not disclosed.
“TechAccel and GreenLight are collaborating in efforts to accelerate the development, delivery and commercialization of RNA-based products to safely and sustainably address global pest control issues in agriculture,” Helmstetter said.
TechAccel declined to disclose further details about its biopesticide portfolio and partners.