Vestaron Corporation leads the biopesticide industry with a technology platform for developing novel, environmentally benign insecticides. These products are derived from naturally occurring peptides, a patented technology licensed exclusively to Vestaron and protected by an extensive intellectual property estate. With several unique peptides under study, three products in late-stage development and multi-market segment potential for each product, Vestaron is poised to make a powerful impact on the $20 billion global insecticide market.
Vestaron’s business strategy comprises three elements:Commercialization of first biopesticide product in 2014-2015.
Regulatory approval received February 3, 2014 for active ingredient. This first product is a spray on product and has been produced at commercial scale. It has an excellent toxicity profile against mammals and other vertebrates and it is environmentally beign. It will target beetles and caterpillars in high value vegetable crops.
The gene coding for the peptides has been successfully put into a plant model system.
The systems are currently being optimized for expression and insecticidal activity. The Company views these as logical successors to BT containing GMO’s. BT’s have formed the foundation of insecticidal GMO’s and which are suffering from insect resistance.
The synthetic development program represent the third tier of the technology platform.
This program has produced a lead compound that mimics the active sites of the peptides. It has been successfully formulated and will be field tested in 2014.
Vestaron has a substantial reservoir of additional peptides to develop through the three-tiered platform. These peptides have unique modes of action from one another and from existing commercial insecticides. The platform address the significant issues facing the growers, resistance and deregistration of many current insecticides. In many cases leaving the grower without any alternatives.
Vestaron’s scientific platform is rooted in novel, environmentally benign insect control focused on bioinsecticides, safer synthetics and GMO applications. They are Products that are better for humans, better for the environment and needed in agricultural. Vestaron Products are field proven and will be offered at a competitive cost of goods. The Intellectural Property position is solid.
- Develop a series of spider peptides for use in insecticides. There are three such compounds in the company’s late-stage pipeline, with the first expected to receive regulatory approval in early 2014 and reach the U.S. market in 2015
- Express the peptides in plants. This strategy will provide insect resistance in agricultural plants themselves. Spider peptides are highly active against a broad range of insects, yet they are not toxic to mammals—including humans.
- Develop synthetic compounds that mimic the insecticidal properties of natural peptides. Using both rational design technologies—largely computer-based—and high throughput screening, new chemical compounds can be synthesized that mimic the pharmacophone structure, or the peptide-receptor complex that interferes with a metabolic pathway and kills the insect. This broadens the scope of Vestaron’s search for additional bioinsecticide compounds.
More than 500 insect and mite populations are known to be resistant to one or more classes of modern insecticides. Vestaron’s peptide-based products get around the resistance problem by targeting new metabolic pathways. Vestaron researchers have identified three peptide compounds with modes of insecticidal action, along with active sites where these peptides work. All three are critical for insect survival; none is the target of currently marketed insecticides.
The novel active sites for spider venom peptides are actually protein receptors that are positioned in cell membranes. These receptors serve as the gateway for essential metabolic functions, such as allowing ions like calcium and potassium to enter cells in order to maintain a well-functioning nervous system. When a receptor is blocked by a peptide, the metabolic pathway shuts down, nervous system activity ceases and the insect dies. Using the peptides themselves as “bait”, scientists were able to isolate and identify the nerve cell-based receptors for the peptides. Two of these receptors are voltage-gated calcium channel receptors and the third is a calcium-activated potassium channel receptor. These receptors are now being employed in several ways by Vestaron to identify additional pesticide compounds.
In the first approach, the three receptors have been incorporated into high-throughput screens that are being used to screen libraries of potential, small-molecule, chemical insecticides that mimic the insecticidal properties of the peptides. In this work, Vestaron scientists are using “competitive” assays, in which the peptide and the chemical from the library compete for the same active site on the receptor. This insures the chemical’s binding site is the same as the peptide and eliminates false positives – chemicals that bind to the wrong place on a receptor. Non-specific binding to receptors is often the source of the unwanted toxicity exhibited by pesticides.
In a second approach, the genes coding for the peptides have been put into plants causing them to have insecticidal properties. This will be a logical replacement for Bt containing plants which are owing their effectiveness due ti insect resistance. We are currently optimizing expression of the peptides.
In the third approach, researchers examined the peptide-receptor complex and determined its three-dimensional structure. The specific site of the interaction between the peptide and receptor (called a pharmacophore) was then mapped. Knowledge of the pharmacophore structure is being used to “rationally design” compounds that also will mimic the action of the peptide. This so-called “in silco” computerized design technology has produced several synthetic compounds that exhibit activity at the new target site.