Smart farmers

News

RNAI technology to target specific pests

A new start-up called RNAissance aims to create pesticides that target specific pests, without having an impact on the surrounding environment or consumers.

RNAissance is a start-up created by TechAccel and Donald Danforth Center for Life Sciences. AgFunderNews reports that RNAissance plans to use so-called RNAI technology.

Text continues underneath tweet

Specific pests targeted

Using the RNAI technology specific pests can be targeted. That way, only the target insect is affected, in contrast to traditional chemical insecticides. Although these follow a similar process by targeting a specific gene in an insect and inhibiting to kill it, traditional insecticides are rarely specific to just one insect. Therefore they can be toxic to other insects, animals or humans.

Text continues underneath image

Traditional insecticides are rarely specific to just one insect. Therefore they can be toxic to other insects, animals or humans.  - Photo: Peter Roek
Traditional insecticides are rarely specific to just one insect. Therefore they can be toxic to other insects, animals or humans. - Photo: Peter Roek

According to Brad Fabbri, chief science officer at TechAccel, RNA-interference (RNAi) is a biological process where a specific RNA molecule can inhibit the expression of a selected target gene in an organism.

Non-toxic to other insects, animals, or humans

The new company RNAissance Ag uses this technology to design insecticides that are extremely specific to a particular insect, and non-toxic to other insects, animals, or humans. “This is done by first selecting the exact sequence of a specific gene in the targeted insect, one that will disrupt the insect’s health when the expression is inhibited. The second step is designing an RNAi that precisely matches the sequence, to cause the disruption,” Fabbri told AgFunderNews.

Although RNAissance isn’t the first to use this technology, Fabbri says the company is able to apply the technology to insects that were currently resistant to these tools.

Or register to be able to comment.