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June 16, 2022

Mystic’s Enko taps into DNA data to target agricultural pests

Courtesy photo Enko Chem researchers work out of the company’s Mystic headquarters.

Mystic-based agritech firm Enko will tap into DNA-encoded libraries and drug-discovery technology to help it develop new ways to protect crops, the company announced Tuesday. 

Enko acquired the data from X-Chem, a Massachusetts-based provider of drug-discovery technology for biotech firms. Enko is its first client to use the technology for agricultural applications.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Enko plans to use the technology to screen large sets of compounds for use in tackling agriculture challenges. Its ENKOMPASS platform combines DNA-encoded library screening with machine learning and structure-based design to find new compounds, “promising chemical starting points in months, compared to the years it takes for traditional R&D approaches,” the company said in a statement. 

Enko CEO and founder Jacqueline Heard said, “Owning these libraries from X-Chem gives us more flexibility to explore the chemical universe and predict which molecule will be right for a specific crop threat. For example, we can fine-tune our screens to focus on a new structure that targets pest insect enzymes without harming bees.”

In the last year Enko has partnered with agricultural giants Bayer, Syngenta and Nufarm to develop new agricultural chemicals to fight weeds, fungi, insects and soil parasites.

As of 2021, Enko had raised $70 million and secured a high-profile partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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