Evogene Ltd. (NYSE: EVGN; TASE:EVGN) has announced the signing of an agreement with German company BASF, which develops chemical materials, including for agriculture. The two companies will jointly develop a new family of insecticides. Evogene's share price was up 2% in today's trading, pushing the company's market cap up to NIS 284 million.
The two companies announced that they had already achieved the first milestone in the framework of their cooperation with the joint selection of a number of targets within the insect at which the new insecticide is directed. Evogene is now preparing to design molecules capable of reaching those places in the insect utilizing its big data system. This system, which has been applied up until now to analysis of plant genetics and bacteria in the plant's surroundings, will now be applied to understanding insect biology and ways of attacking targets within them.
BASF is responsible for field testing of the materials discovered by Evogene using a computer.
BASF VP global R&D insecticides Harold Bastiaans said, "Finding a chemica effective against insects with the ability to distinguish between harmful insects and other benign species is one of the main innovation engines in our industry. Evogene's technological platform, combined with our expertise in in research and development of new active ingredients, will enable us to expedite the discovery of innovative, effective, and safe solutions for our consumers."
Evogene executive VP & general manager ag-chemicals Eran Kosover said, "Innovative insecticides are essential for reducing insect damage, improving crop quantity and quality, and affecting public health. Cooperation signals an important step in the entry of Evogene's chemical division into the insecticide field and constitutes an important development in our relations with BASF, a global leader in agricultural solutions."
Evogene was originally a spinoff of Compugen, which sought to apply big data capabilities to drug discovery. Evogene applied this know-how to the discovery of plant characteristics and improving those characteristics and created a number of important cooperative ventures in these areas; turning these ventures into revenue, however, proved to be a slow process.
The company therefore turned to new horizons - improving the resistance of plants to insects, improving the bacterial soil environment in order to provide plants with better growing conditions, and improving plants designed for use as bio-fuel. Use of Evogene's system to discover drugs that can attack sensitive points in insects is a more biologically complex challenge for the company.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 30, 2018
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