Micropep Technologies raised €4M to develop peptides that can boost growth and disease resistance in plants by regulating the gene expression.
FREMONT, CA – The €4M raised during a Series A funding bolstered Micropep Technologies’ efforts to boost growth and disease resistance in plants. The company garnered support from Sofinnova Partners, a global industrial biotech fund, and Irdi Soridec Gestion. The funds will enable the company to augment its miPEP technology and develop better agricultural products.
The miPEP technology leverages naturally-occurring peptides to raise the levels of gene-regulating microRNA (miRNA) molecules. The short strands of RNA of 21 nucleotides regulate gene expression by blocking the mRNA molecules carrying information regarding the production of specific proteins. As per the conventional approach, the focus was trained on shorter, mature miRNA molecules.
The unexplored longer, immature miRNA molecules offer exciting possibilities as well. Micropep Technologies was able to discover a primary transcript of miRNA, a sequence between 300 to 3000 nucleotides long containing open reading frame coding for small peptides. The naturally-occurring peptides were synthesized and applied to plants.
The plants witnessed a rise in the amount of the corresponding miRNA, which in turn lowered the levels of transcription factors as well. Micropep aims to leverage this technology for agricultural applications, identifying the natural peptides and using them to develop effective solutions for regulating key gene expression through miRNA. It will not only boost plant growth but will enhance their disease resistance.
Micropep is preparing for large scale deployment of this technology for the agricultural sector. The peptide can be made identical to the natural one using chemical synthesis. Genetically engineering bacteria can also be used to produce the peptides. The miPEP technology is similar to the use of peptides with RNA interference molecules to silence plant genes.
Microorganisms can be used to enhance plant growth in agriculture. Several organizations are seeking to combine natural biomolecules, living organisms, and genetically-encoded proteins for new bioherbicides and biopesticides.
Of all the plant gene regulations being developed in the industry, it is difficult to determine the best one on an agricultural scale. However, there is no doubt regarding the effectiveness of the approach leveraged by Micropep Technologies in boosting plant growth and enhancing disease resistance.