SBIR Phase I: Scaffold Technology for Effector Molecules (STEM): A Transgenic Platform for Agriculture
Small Business Information
Divergence (Currently Divergence, Inc.)
893 North Warson Road, St Louis, MO, 63141
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I research project will develop a novel enabling technology for transgenic solutions to agricultural problems. Scaffold Technology for Effector Molecules (STEM) will allow the generation of high-affinity bioactive proteins capable of selectively altering plant and plant pathogen gene product function. This project will generate and validate a STEM plant universal molecular recognition library in a plant protein scaffold. Parental scaffold expression in plant leaves and roots is a requirement for library utility and will be assessed. A library consisting of approximately 108 members will be created. The library will be displayed on the surface of bacteriophage (bacterial viruses) and be composed of molecules with high affinity binding to a plant viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. The library will demonstrate the usefulness of the STEM platform. Screening against subsequent targets will provide validation of the anticipated universal nature of the library and the enabling technology. Constructs selected during Phase I will be rapidly moved into transgenic plant expression systems and plant viral challenge tests during future research. Commercially, the application the STEM platform offers a new approach to solve agricultural problems and, in principle, any macromolecule can be targeted. We have tailored our scaffolds to be non-allergenic and non-toxic plant proteins such that they may readily gain acceptance in the plant transgenic market. However, this approach has broad potential utility in transgenic plants. Applications for the STEM technology for plant input trait development include such characteristics as disease resistance and drought tolerance. Increases in crop productivity are crucial to meeting the needs of an increasing human population in an environmentally stable manner. STEM may be applied to output traits such as improved plant nutrient composition, and to markets paralleling those for non-therapeutic antibodies, such as research, diagnostics and chromatography. Commercialization is planned by establishing projects with corporate partners, licensing relationships, and in some cases, developing in-house products for specific applications.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.