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Business

Boragen launches for boron-based fungicides

First start-up from Research Triangle Park-based AgTech Accelerator raises $10 million from venture backers

by Melody M. Bomgardner
March 2, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 10

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Credit: Boragen
Dombrosky
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Credit: Boragen
Dombrosky

Boragen, the first start-up to launch from a new business accelerator focused on agriculture technology, has raised $10 million in its first round of venture funding. The firm will use the money to develop synthetic fungicides based on a group of boron-containing compounds.

Cofounder and chief science officer Tony Liu, a synthetic chemist, first zeroed in on a group of compounds called benzoxaboroles while screening for pharmaceutical leads. Benzoxaboroles have been used in topical antibiotics and antifungals.

“Boron is a unique building block that allows a lot of freedom to modulate geometry and charge,” Liu points out. “You can fine-tune the reactivity by changing what you put around it for a specific use.”

Boragen’s lead candidate boasts a new mode of fungus-killing action, which will help prevent the emergence of resistant organisms, says CEO John W. Dombrosky. And it can be used in tiny amounts when combined with common fungicides, he adds.

“We’re really only at the beginning of being able to exploit boron chemistry” Dombrosky says.

Agriculture has attracted increasing interest from venture capital firms in the past two years. In 2016, Dombrosky and Alexandria Venture Investments formed the AgTech Accelerator in Research Triangle Park, N.C., a sprawling research hub for several big agchem firms.

AgTech Accelerator’s partners—and Boragen investors—include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Arch Venture Partners, Flagship Pioneering, Bayer, and Syngenta Ventures.

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Comments
JIM HENRY (March 2, 2017 11:37 AM)
Dear Sirs/Ms:

I am a coatings formulator for a chemical company in Houston.

I worked in silver nitrate in water treatment solutions to kill cryptosporidium,and giardia in developing world countries as well as reduce boron from agriculture intended water sources.

I am very interested in looking at boron in some form to be applied to a biocide or fungicide.

Thank you.

Jim Henry

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