Jan 19, 2023
Bayer biotech collaboration to help improve crop protection

To advance innovations in crop protection, Bayer has started a collaboration with biotech company Oerth Bio to develop the next generation of more sustainable crop protection products.

Oerth Bio’s unique protein degradation technology possesses the potential to generate products that support Bayer’s sustainability objective to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture via lower application rates and favorable safety profiles, according to a news release.

Oerth Bio scientists evaluating PROTAC molecules in vitro

Oerth Bio was founded in 2019 by Bayer’s impact investment arm, Leaps by Bayer, and Arvinas, a clinical-stage biotechnology company leading the way in the development of targeted protein degradation therapeutics.

Initially developed to fight human diseases like cancer and other difficult to treat diseases, Oerth’s patented PROTAC (PROteolysis TArgeting Chimera) protein degradation technology provides an innovative pathway to entirely novel crop protection and climate resilient farm solutions. Oerth Bio remains the first and only company researching agricultural PROTAC solutions, according to the release.

“The world’s farmers need dependable and sustainable solutions to crop protection challenges, and PROTAC protein degradation technologies show an increasingly promising path toward a new way to develop tailored technologies,” Robert Reiter, head of R&D at Bayer’s Crop Science Division, said in the release. “We expect protein degradation technology, already used in medicine, to be an important cornerstone for the development of new crop protection products that reduce the impact on the environment significantly. Oerth Bio’s work has proven to be promising, and we are looking forward to what the next phase of our work together will bring.”

Oerth Bio’s targeted protein degraders offer the capacity for high-precision product development, low application rates, and paths to overcome biological resistance. Oerth molecules are designed to interact with only one target protein, and safeguard off-target/beneficial organisms. These attributes combine to offer an attractive pathway for the development of novel crop protection products that are sustainable and highly effective, according to the release.

PROTAC molecules activate a specific naturally occurring process within target species. The impact is expected to be precise and limited to interrupting the specific targeted processes in weeds, diseases or insects that impact crops negatively, according to the release.

“This collaboration further emboldens our ambitions for first-in-the-world farm centric protein degrader solutions,” John Dombrosky, Oerth Bio’s CEO, said in the release. “It’s a real tribute to Bayer’s leadership and vision, as they significantly invest in breakthroughs that could change farming and the world for the better.”

Oerth Bio is simultaneously developing several novel agricultural applications in nascent crop efficiency and plant resilience segments, ensuring PROTAC technology can be utilized to its full potential, and provide maximum utility to farmers and the greater food system, according to the release.


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