Venture Capital: GreenLight Biosciences Notches $102M to Expand RNA-based Products

June 18, 2020 | News, Venture Capital
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RNA products can play a salutary role in both life and crop sciences.

GreenLight Biosciences, which is pioneering technology to create cell-free, high-performing natural RNA products, announced its raise of $102 million in an oversubscribed Series D funding round led by Chinese investment firm Morningside Ventures. (BOSTINNO)

S2G Ventures, Coromorant Asset Management, Continental Grain Company, Fall Line Capital, Tao Capital Partners, Baird Venture Partners, MLS Capital Fund II, Lewis and Clark AgriFood, and Lupa Systems also participated.

The importance of RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a natural molecule that controls the biological processes in all living things. RNA-based products can be immensely useful in the protection of crops from pests and the fight against diseases that afflict human beings.

Unfortunately, because of their high cost, RNA-based products were commercially unviable until recently.

Greenlight has patented GreenWorx, a cell-free bioprocessing platform for the production of RNA products at a much lower cost, permitting commercialization. These products are useful for both for plant and life sciences.

For example, GreenLight has held field trials targeting the pest known as the Colorado potato beetle. The beetle has become resistant to many insecticides. However, even when effective, insecticides damage the surrounding ecosystem. Not so GreenLight’s RNA-based product – it targets the beetle and nothing else and weakens it naturally.

GreenLight and COVID-19

These methods can be carried over to life sciences, too.

Earlier this month, GreenLight raised an additional $17 million from new and existing investors, including Malaysian private investment company Xeraya Capital, Baird Capital, and global investment company Flu Lab.

GreenLight will use the funds to establish a scaled process for the clinical development and production of billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine using GreenLight’s proprietary technology.

“It’s an investment toward the world having access to an affordable COVID-19 vaccine. A bet that mRNA will play an important part in human vaccines,” Xeraya Capital CEO Fares Zahir said.

GreenLight, too, is developing several RNA-based coronavirus vaccine candidates. Moreover, its mRNA vaccine production platform can scale the development of not only GreenLight’s own vaccines but of others as well.

Use of the new $102 million fundraising

The latest raising of $102 million will fund GreenLight’s development of new RNA-based therapeutics for human health. The company will also use the funds for the development and commercialization of products for crop protection.

“GreenLight Biosciences’ manufacturing technology can address critical pain points for RNA supply in both agriculture and human health,” said Jason Dinges of Morningside Ventures. “RNA-based products represent an opportunity for innovation in both human therapeutics as well as safe, environmentally friendly crop protection.

Related Story: Pivot Bio, Potential Disruptor of Synthetic Fertilizers, Collects $100M

Image credit of an RNA Strand: Flickr                                                  

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