Behind the Biotalys Protein Expression Breakthrough and more than 500% increase in production

February 6, 2022 |

The last time we did an in-depth story on Biotalys with an exclusive Digest interview with Patrice Sellès, CEO of Biotalys and veteran international ag exec formerly with Syngenta, we talked about product launches, product pipeline, how their biobacteriacides and biofungicides tackle food security and waste at the same time. So needless to say when we heard the news that Biotalys “achieved a breakthrough in protein expression increasing commercial potential for its first BioFungicide Evoca” and saw this meant a “more than 500% increase in production” our eyebrows raised in interest.

In today’s Digest, what this protein expression breakthrough really means for Biotalys as well as the commercialization of bioactive ingredients, other news of where their biofungicide will be formulated and why that matters, and more…and it’s ready for you now at The Digest online.

Protein Expression Breakthrough

Let’s start with the news that Belgium-based Biotalys “achieves a breakthrough in protein expression of the bioactive ingredient of its first biocontrol product Evoca.” Why does this breakthrough even matter? Because it has huge implications for the commercial potential for this biofungicide targeted at the 2026 horizon.

“The breakthrough has the potential to transform Evoca from a market calibration tool into a product providing commercial value at competitive efficacy and cost to growers at the horizon of 2026, pending field trial studies, registration and upscaling. The company is evaluating the impact on its current activities and will communicate implications in due course.

Building on Biotalys’ AGROBODY Foundry technology platform, the company’s strain engineering and manufacturing teams have now used its state-of-the-art protein expression toolbox to achieve more than 500% increase in production, representing an unprecedented achievement for the active protein of Evoca in the yeast Pichia pastoris. Yes, you read that right – more than 500% increase in production!

The company continues to work with leading industry players in the synthetic biology field to further develop enhanced production methods exploring a broad variety of fermentation hosts. Biotalys intends to leverage this significant improvement and the method of producing AGROBODY bioactives to expand its intellectual property portfolio.

The backstory

Ok, let’s start at the beginning – Biotalys is an agtech company protecting crops and food with protein-based biocontrol solutions. So, super important work for people and planet. Biotalys’ first protein-based biocontrol Evoca aims at helping growers to protect crops such as strawberries, grapes and other high value fruits and vegetables against Botrytis and Powdery Mildew in integrated pest management programs.

Based on existing production costs, this biofungicide has been developed as a market calibration product, pending registration approval first in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is expected in the second half of 2022. Market calibration within high value crops in the U.S. market is the purpose of an agreement that Biotalys recently entered into with Biobest.

Biotalys also submitted for approval in California in April 2021, as this State performs its own in-depth review. In the European Union, Biotalys received confirmation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the College for approval of crop protection products and biocides (Ctgb) that the registration dossier submitted in March 2021 for the active substance of Evoca is admissible for review.

Check out “Protein-based Biocontrol Food Solutions: The Digest’s 2021 Multi-Slide Guide to Biotalys” here.

Reactions from the stakeholders

“Biotalys is excited about this result and very proud of the team innovation effort and creativity to boost expression levels through the application of different components of Biotalys’ biotech toolbox,” commented Luc Maertens, COO of Biotalys. “While continuing to optimise internally the protein expression, we are currently in parallel validating this result at scale with our manufacturing partners and believe a next generation of Evoca, based on the same AGROBODY bioactive, with substantially higher production efficiencies, now has the potential to create a product at commercial value at competitive efficacy and cost for growers.”

So where will Evoca be formulated?

Just a few days after the breakthrough announcement, Biotalys signed an agreement with Kwizda Agro, an established crop protection manufacturer and provider of tolling services for the agricultural industry, for Kwizda Agro to act as the formulator of the protein-based biocontrol products developed by Biotalys. This agreement forms a critical step in the set-up of the production process for Biotalys’ unique products, starting with its first biofungicide Evoca planned for market introduction in the United States in the second half of 2022.

Formulation involves the turning of an active ingredient into a crop protection product that can be applied onto a crop. It forms the last step of the production process of a biocontrol before packaging and shipping to the customer.

Biotalys’ products will be formulated at Kwizda Agro’s state-of-the-art facility in Leobendorf, Austria. The facility has the most advanced technical capabilities and obtained recent ISO-certifications for quality, environmental management and health & safety. Kwizda Agro will formulate the liquid active ingredient received from Biotalys’ contract manufacturer into water soluble granules to form the customer end product. The company will also package the products to the benefit of the distribution channel selected by Biotalys.

“Building on almost a century of experience in providing services to the agricultural sector, we aim to be the best tolling partner for high-quality formulations for the agro-industry,” said Ronald Hamedl, CEO of Kwizda Agro. “We are enthusiastic to add Biotalys’ biological solutions to our growing portfolio of biological formulations to allow end products be brought on the market that help growers protect their crops in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Luc Maertens, COO of Biotalys, stated: “We already worked with Kwizda Agro during the development of our first biofungicide Evoca, and the company has proven itself to be an incredibly reliable partner. Its formulation facility in Austria is continuously adapted to the highest standards in terms of sustainability, health & safety, and quality management, so that our partnership not only provides us with the high-quality products we need to offer to growers worldwide, but also confirms our attachment to sustainability in every step of the production process.”

Bottom Line

A more than 500% increase in production, representing an unprecedented achievement for the active protein of Evoca in the yeast Pichia pastoris is no small potatoes, but it sure can help grow healthy big potatoes! The potential for when Evoca goes commercial is huge for both planet and people, and since that isn’t too far away with the EPA registration expected later this year, this is definitely a company and biofungicide tech to keep an eye on.

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