TechAccel and Danforth Center Launch New Company to Control Insects
New Technology aims to dramatically reduce crop losses
ST. LOUIS, MO.—January 24, 2019 — The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the world’s largest independent plant research institute located in St. Louis, MO and TechAccel, a technology and venture development company located in Kansas City, MO today announced the launch of RNAissance Ag LLC, a new company that holds the exclusive license to RNA-interference technology developed at the Danforth Center. The new company will use the proprietary technology in the development of sprayable insect control measures.
RNAissance Ag, which is pronounced “Renaissance,” was formed following successful research at the Danforth Center funded with TechAccel’s first grant in its “Path to Commercialization” Program. 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. Near-term research and development activities will continue as sponsored research at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
“Over $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.”
“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 insect control measure is highly specific to the target insect and is not toxic to other organisms,” he said. “Further, we believe this approach can be more effectively applied than chemical sprays, reducing cost, waste and health risks to workers and the environment.”