How do you control insect pests without damaging biodiversity?
The Robin Lab
New small molecule insecticides
Just as sophisticated cancer drugs are being developed that exquisitely target specific molecules found on cancerous cells, agrochemicals can be developed that target only the pest insects. A challenge in developing such agrochemicals is their cost of the development and registration. Perhaps a family of related chemicals targeting a set of targets that are related but diverged among species will provide the keys to such a puzzle.
Bayer Funds work!
We have been awarded a small grant under Bayer's Grant4Target- targets for crop protection scheme.
"We are thrilled that Bayer’s ‘Grants4Target’ initiative is supporting our science which ultimately aims to develop insecticides that are safer for farmers and the environment. The first step has been to identify novel ‘targets’ that have the potential to be targeted by chemistries that will be developed down the track. It is early days and the odds are not short, to pick up a horse racing analogy, but it is wonderful that Bayer is investing at such an early stage of research. Admittedly the investment to our project is small but Bayer appears to be spreading their bet and we are keenly jockeying to get to the next stage. The ‘horse’ we have chosen is called ‘X-kinase’ and we reckon it’s very druggable, which is a good thing for potential targets! These potential targets are only found in insects, will interfere with the insect hormone system, and will be specific to pest insects rather than beneficial insects. It’s too early to say which pests will be our main focus but broad-acre crop pests such as armyworms, diamond back moth, bollworms, aphids, or leaf miners are all possible . Bec and Jack, two keen PhD students, have got ‘X-kinase’ in good nick and are raring to go!”