eggXYt, a biotechnology company revolutionizing the livestock industry, and Tropic Biosciences (“Tropic”), the pioneering agricultural-biotechnology company, announced a license agreement to apply Tropic’s Gene Editing induced Gene Silencing (GEiGS™) technology to develop genetic resistance in chickens against Avian Influenza virus.
Avian Influenza virus is one of the deadliest and most costly avian diseases. The 2015 outbreak in the U.S., for example, led to the slaughter of 50 million poultry and is estimated to have had an economic cost of $3.2 billion. Outbreaks not only disrupt the protein supply chain, but they also threaten human health as the disease can be transferred from birds to humans and has been documented to lead to severe illness and fatality.
eggXYt brings to the collaboration its proven expertise in accelerating gene-editing solutions to disrupt the poultry sector. Over the last four years, eggXYt has developed its flagship product, an innovative solution to determine the sex of chicks before incubation, which is set to save the 4 billion male chicks in the egg layer industry that are currently culled each year due to their inability to lay eggs and because it is not economical to raise them for meat. Through the application of GEiGS™, eggXYt will expand its poultry portfolio beyond its initial product and into the field of animal health. eggXYt has recently moved to a state of the art R&D facility and is set to launch a fundraising round, which will support its R&D programs and path to commercialization.
Yehuda Elram, CEO & Co-Founder of eggXYt commented, “Our primary goal is to improve animal welfare and efficiency within the poultry industry, and we are excited to embark on this project that broadens our platform of gene editing solutions for animal health.” He went on to say “Following the COVID-19 outbreak, we are all very mindful of the threat of zoonotic diseases to human health and so we are especially motivated to embark on a project that may help to prevent further pandemics.”
Tropic Biosciences developed GEiGS™ to support development of its own tropical crops, for example banana plants that are resistant to Panama disease, a devastating fungal disease that is threatening production globally. Recognizing the wider potential of GEiGS™ beyond tropical crops, Tropic has been making the proprietary technology platform commercially available to other innovative companies, including world leaders in the crop and livestock breeding industries.
Eyal Maori, Chief Science Officer and Co-Founder of Tropic Biosciences, commented: “The GEiGSTM platform harnesses naturally occurring defense mechanisms to directly attack disease agents, solving the heavy burden of target gene discovery for gene editing applications. This is driving extensive interest in the technology from outside parties and we are delighted to partner with eggXYt and other innovative companies from the broader agricultural and life-sciences industries.”
Tropic and eggXYt’s collaboration comes at an exciting time for gene editing, just after Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of CRISPR.