Perspectives Online

Agile Sciences, SePRO enter technology development and commercialization agreement

Two companies affiliated with N.C. State University researchers and an alumnus of N.C. State have joined forces. Agile Sciences will work with SePRO Corp. to develop an Agile Sciences' proprietary compound for use in aquatic applications, to manage algae and cyanobacteria, and in turf and ornamental applications for aiding in the better control of turf and ornamental diseases. Dr. John Cavanagh, professor of molecular and structural biochemistry in NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Dr. Christian Melander, assistant professor of bio-organic chemistry in NCSU’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, co-founded Agile Sciences. Bill Culpepper, SePRO’s president and CEO, is an N.C. State graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Crop Science.

SePRO, a specialty agrichemical company based in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Ind., makes the leading brand of aquatic herbicide for the selective control of invasive and nuisance plants and is also a leader in providing plant protection and growth regulation technology to both the U.S. turf and ornamental markets. Agile Sciences, headquartered at N.C. State’s Centennial Campus, provides commercial solutions to those industries plagued by the effects of naturally forming biofilms. The company's proprietary compound was derived from the Agelas conifera sea sponge and has been shown to be effective in dispersing biofilms.

As demand on the world's water resources increase, it is imperative that affordable and sustainable methods for the management of both algae and cyanobacteria are developed. Algae are critical to aquatic ecology but often grow to nuisance levels that can create taste and odor problems in potable water. While most algae do not produce substances that are toxic to humans or animals, this is not the case for cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria produce so-called cyanotoxins that are extremely toxic and are capable of causing serious illness or even death if consumed.

Agile Sciences' proprietary compound, Agilyte™, has been shown to be effective in dispersing biofilms. Given that biofilm formation protects cyanobacteria and algae from effective management control, a biofilm dispersion agent could be helpful in preventing drinking water contamination with harmful levels of cyanotoxins. SePRO will fully evaluate the applications of Agilyte™ in the field of turf and ornamental disease control where biofilms are thought to shield plant infections against the effectiveness of applied fungicide treatments. Under this agreement, SePRO, a recognized leader in all of these fields, will validate the application, develop the compound composition and then retain an exclusive license for this Agile Sciences technology in the global aquatic, turf and ornamental markets.

Commenting on the agreement, Cavanagh said, "We are excited that SePRO has decided to develop Agilyte™ to address these aquatic, turf and ornamental problems, and extremely pleased that much of the work will take place at the SePRO Research and Technology Campus (SRTC), which is located nearby in Whitakers, N.C.”

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