Aug. 6, 2021
Deargen (CEO Kilsoo Kang), an artificial intelligence (AI)-Powered drug discovery and development company, announced on the 5th that it signed a co-development agreement with FarmHannong (CEO Youjin Lee) on the "development of new crop protection products using AI technology."
Through this agreement, Deargen and FarmHannong will use artificial intelligence technology for the co-development of new drug candidate discovery for crop protection products. Through this contract, which aims to develop global crop protection products, Deargen is planning to receive upfront (contract deposit) as well as a milestone (technology fee per level) according to development progress from FarmHannong.
Deargen will be responsible for discovering and optimizing new chemical candidates of crop protection products through self-developed artificial intelligence technologies, DearDTI and MolEQ. Afterwards, FarmHannong will review the possibility of product development through experimental verification of new chemical candidates.
As the world population is growing, agricultural production is expected to increase by about 50% by 2050. Except for external environmental factors, such as natural disasters, the greatest impact on harvest can be the occurrence of disease and the effect of weeds. The size of the global crop protection products market is expected to be around 77 trillion won (approximately USD 67.3 billion), and the need to develop crop protection products of new technologies continues to increase as the resistance issue of existing crop protection products increases.
The principles for new drug development and the initial development of crop protection products are the same in that they discover new targets and discover new chemical candidates for targets. Based on this perspective, AI technologies from the existing drug development can be used to develop crop protection products, and collaboration between AI drug discovery companies and agricultural companies is taking place globally. Global pharmaceutical company Bayer has signed co-development contracts with AI drug discovery companies Kebotix and Atomwise for crop protection products development. In addition, the global crop protection products development company Syngenta launched two co-developments this year with Insilico Medicine and ENKO.
Based on this market trend, the agreement is noteworthy in that the AI technology utilized in the drug discovery is the first case in Korea to be applied to the crop protection products market.
Youjin Lee, CEO of FarmHannong, states, "In the agricultural sector, digital transformation (DX) innovation such as AI will be accelerated," and "we will innovate customer value by expanding technology development for agricultural customers with Deargen, which shows global AI technology through global academic conferences and research."
Kilsoo Kang, CEO of Deargen, said, "The development of crop protection products is limited in traditional ways, as is the case with new drug development. The data used in Deargen's artificial intelligence technology can cover not only human proteins but also animals, insects, viruses, and other species, which can be used for crop protection products development," and claimed "We are pleased to conduct co-development using AI technology from FarmHannong and Deargen, which have extensive experience in agriculture."