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Enko purchases DNA-encoded libraries to speed crop protection solutions

Libraries will be bought from drug discovery service company X-Chem.

Enko has acquired proprietary DNA-encoded libraries and technology enablement from the drug discovery service company X-Chem. 

Enko is the first company to internalize this technology for agricultural applications, say company officials. The libraries will help speed the discovery and development of safe, sustainable crop protection solutions urgently needed by farmers, say company officials. 

DNA-encoded libraries are a proven tool to kickstart pharmaceutical drug discovery projects because of the efficiency of screening large, diverse chemical spaces. Enko has pioneered applying this approach to tackle agriculture challenges, say Enko officials. This acquisition is a significant advancement for Enko's Enkompass platform, which combines DNA-encoded library screening with machine learning and structure-based design to find novel chemistry and new modes of action to control crop pests and diseases. 

Enko's targeted discovery method uncovers promising chemical starting points in months, compared to the years it takes for traditional R&D approaches.

"Diversity is the foundation and essential building block for innovation in the drug design space, and our farmers need it more than ever," said Jacqueline Heard, Enko CEO and founder. "Owning these libraries from X-Chem gives us more flexibility to explore the chemical universe and predict which molecule will be right for a specific crop threat. For example, we can fine tune our screens to focus on a new structure that targets pest insect enzymes without harming bees. This is similar to how researchers have tailored cancer drugs to kill cancer cells without affecting others."

Pairing DNA-encoded library screening with machine learning allows Enko to tap into novel chemical spaces, which is critical for overcoming widespread pest resistance. With these new libraries, each experiment will produce high-quality molecular starting points and training data for machine learning models that increase efficiency of hit generation and lead optimization. To discover safe and effective new modes of action for pests, Enko can both screen billions of molecules within its DNA-encoded libraries and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to create more effective ways of finding and selecting the right treatments for the right targets, faster than anyone had ever imagined to be possible.

"The universe of chemicals that can be mined for safe, effective crop health products is massive. Until now, researchers have barely scratched its surface," said Noor Shaker, senior vice president at X-Chem and Enko board member, in a news release. "We are champions of DEL-based drug discovery, and our work with Enko has shown the broad application of this technology to drive more targeted product pipelines across both pharmaceuticals and agriculture."

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