Biotalys Enters Into Academic Collaborations With Key Scientific Leaders In Europe, U.S.

Cooperations will support Biotalys’ targeted approach to biocontrol development and help to advance earlier-stage programs

Published online: Feb 10, 2024 Articles
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Ghent, Belgium – Biotalys (Euronext – BTLS), an Agricultural Technology (AgTech) company developing protein-based biocontrol solutions for crop protection, announced that the company has entered into several academic collaborations with leading researchers in plant pathology in both Europe and the U.S.  

Biotalys is developing a series of biocontrols to support growers in protecting their crops from pests and diseases. The company’s R&D program BioFun-4 was initiated last year to develop a biofungicide against Phytophthora infestans, an oomycete (water mould) that causes late blight/potato blight, a serious disease that particularly affects fruit and vegetable crops and potatoes.

Biotalys has now entered into a research collaboration agreement with the University of Aberdeen (United Kingdom), under which Biotalys will sponsor a three-year PhD project in the Oomycete Laboratory of Prof. Pieter van West, Chair in Mycology, a leader in the field of plant and animal pathogenic oomycetes. This project will deepen the expertise in oomycetes at the molecular level and fits well with Biotalys’ highly targeted strategy of applying a discovery method based on defined molecular targets, as core of its AGROBODY 2.0 technology platform. 

The company also announced two new academic collaborations related to BioFun-7, its ongoing R&D program in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and focused on developing biocontrols against leafspot disease for cowpeas and other legumes. The first collaboration is with the Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA) at the University of Lisbon (Portugal) to isolate and characterize new strains of Cercospora canescens, the target fungal disease of the BioFun-7 program. The work led by Dr. Filipa Monteiro at Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food (LEAF) labs (e.g., Coffee Rust Research Centre (CIFC), Prof. Dora Batista) will enable Biotalys to test the effectiveness of its molecules in infection experiments. The collaboration was initiated in the second half of 2023 and is planned to run for two years. 

The second agreement related to BioFun-7 is with the University of California-Davis (U.S.) and the lab of Prof. Ioannis Stergiopoulos at the department of Plant Pathology. Prof. Stergiopoulos dedicates his research to the understanding of fungal plant pathogens and to translating this knowledge into effective intervention strategies for disease control. In this collaboration, Prof. Stergiopoulos’s lab will perform a functional analysis of antifungal targets in select plant pathogens, pertinent to the BioFun-7 program. 

Dr. Carlo Boutton, Chief Scientific Officer of Biotalys, commented, “With these collaborations we have announced, we continue to build on the strong scientific foundation of our programs and technology. I am a firm believer of the synergies that can be created between the expertise and excellent research in academia and industry, and the announced new collaborations are examples of that vision. We continuously seek to partner with experts in all aspects of our field as we work to bring novel, sustainable crop protection products to growers. We are excited about the work these researchers will be doing with us.” 

Biotalys already has academic partnerships with the University of Ghent and the Flemish Institute of Biotech VIB. In addition, the company previously received a grant from the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) for a PhD project (so-called Baekeland mandate) to conduct research around novel protein-based fungicides. 

The company also has a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading experts, formed in late 2022 to support the company’s continued growth, accelerate product pipeline efforts and deepen scientific partnership initiatives. 

For more information, visit www.biotalys.com.