Lavie Bio Ltd. (Lavie Bio), a leading ag-biologicals company focusing on improving food quality, sustainability and agriculture productivity through the introduction of microbiome based products, and a subsidiary of Evogene Ltd. (NASDAQ: EVGN) (TASE: EVGN), announced today positive trial results for two of its leading bio-fungicide product candidates. The successful results for LAV311 and LAV312, targeting bunch rot diseases, mark the advancement of these candidates to “Development Stage 2”. These vineyard trials, conducted in target locations in Europe and the U.S., resulted in significantly better efficacy and consistency than existing comparable commercial biological benchmarks, and competitive to commercial chemical benchmarks, both tested as part of these trials. The positive results will support Lavie Bio’s current plan to launch its first bio-fungicide product for controlling bunch rots for use in fruit and vegetables in 2024.
Damage from crop disease is rising, with current efforts largely depending on chemical crop protection, with fungicide chemicals accounting for $18.7B in annual expenditure in 2019. As a result of increasing disease resistance to existing chemicals and demand for more sustainability practices, there is a well-recognized and rapidly growing need for new and effective solutions, with ag-biologicals being an important tool in addressing this challenge.
Bunch rots are devastating diseases and the estimated annual expenditure on crop protection with existing chemical solutions is in the $100s of millions. New and efficacious biological products can be integrated into the farmer’s existing IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices thus driving both productive and sustainable practices, while reducing the emergence of pest resistance to existing crop protection solutions.
Lavie Bio’s bio-fungicide program addresses bunch rots currently focused on vines with the aim to expand to other crops. The leading product candidates, LAV311 and LAV312 were developed based on the utilization of Lavie Bio’s BDD (Biology Driven Design) platform, resulting in an optimized combination of live microbial strain, formulation and fermentation technologies. The positive results were achieved in repeated vineyard trials during the years 2019 and 2020, representing a variety of conditions, such as grape types, agriculture practices and climates. These trials showed that vineyards treated with each of LAV311 and LAV312 demonstrated 60-70% reduction in crop damage due to bunch rots in comparison to the control.
Looking forward, Lavie Bio’s activities in “Development Stage 2” are expected to focus on further advancement of the formulation and fermentation of LAV311 and LAV312, as well as to broaden the spectrum of target crops and diseases.
Mr. Ido Dor, CEO of Lavie Bio, stated: “The potential to introduce a solution that could generate new value both for the farmer and the consumer by improving productivity, sustainability and the quality of the produce we consume, is exciting and motivates us at Lavie Bio. It is great to see how Lavie Bio’s multidisciplinary team, powered by our proprietary BDD platform, makes the difference and enables the introduction of novel ag-biological solutions that are ‘Better By Nature’.”
Mr. Ofer Haviv, Chairman of Lavie Bio and President & CEO of Evogene, stated: “The progress achieved in Lavie Bio’s bio-fungicide program is another testament to the value and impressive progress that can be achieved using computational biology. This achievement represents another product advancing towards commercialization that benefited from our subsidiary’s technological platform, BDD, powered by Evogene’s ‘MicroBoost AI’ engine.”