An interdisciplinary approach is expected to develop pesticides that protect crops using new modes of action


Image: Bayer Group headquarters in Germany’s Leverkusen. (Credit: Bayer AG.) --------------------------------------------------- A bird's eye view shows how the Group headquarters building blends harmoniously into Carl Duisberg Park.

Bayer Trendlines Ag Innovation Fund, established by Bayer CropScience, and Trendlines Group have co-invested and established ProJini Agchem, a company that develops novel pesticides.

Pesticides are the first line of defence for farmers in controlling pests, such as insects, diseases and weeds, which (if left uncontrolled) can cause up to 40% of yield loss in agriculture. In 2018, annual sales of the pesticide market touched $55bn.

But, it is also to be noted that the present pesticide solutions are insufficient due to increased resistance from insects, coupled with increasing regulatory pressure. In spite of agrichemical companies investing billions of dollars in research and development every year, new solutions wielding novel modes of action have been few and far between.

Bayer and Trendlines stated that ProJini Agchem was developing a solution on new type of molecular targets based on protein-protein interactions. While such interactions are the core of most organisms, it is not easy developing inhibitors for such systems applying conventional approaches because of their spatial and chemical characteristics.

ProJini Agchem has licensed technology from Migal Galilee Research Institute

ProJini Agchem has secured an exclusive license to use a platform developed by Migal Galilee Research Institute scientists, Maayan Gal and Itay Bloch. The platform uses computational-biophysical methods to overcome this hurdle. ProJini Agchem aims to develop new pesticides armed with new modes of action.

Bayersmall molecules, crop science division head Axel Trautwein said: “Discovering new active ingredients and modes of action remains a top objective for agriculture in the future.”

Bayer Crop Science division open innovation and strategic partnerships head Allen Christian said: “Establishing ProJini Agchem with Trendlines is a prime example of how our ‘open innovation’ model works in Crop Science R&D, with the aim of supporting farmers to always achieve better standards in protecting their harvests.”

Trendlines chairman and CEO Steve Rhodes said: “The need to develop new crop protection technologies to enhance food security is of high importance. Not only are known pesticides ineffective due to resistance, they are also of environmental concern. ProJini Agchem has risen to the challenge of developing new modes of intervention to provide the market with novel, more effective crop protection methods.

“Because protein-protein interactions are species specific, we expect the company to discover targeted pesticides that will be less harmful to the environment. ProJini Agchem is the third company established by the Fund and boosts Trendlines’ growing ag-bio sector of portfolio companies.”