The Medford, Massachusetts headquartered company, which uses RNA-based technology for agricultural and human health applications, will increase the size of its research and development operations in Research Triangle Park.
GreenLight said the expansion will add more than 60,000 square feet of greenhouse, laboratory, and office space to support its plant health pipeline. Occupancy of the greenhouse will begin in the first quarter of this year and increase growing capacity tenfold, according to the company.
“This additional capacity is a critical step in helping us capitalize on our solutions for agriculture to realize a food-secure future,” said Mark Singleton, GreenLight’s head of plant health at RTP. “The investment will help to keep us at the cutting edge of innovation and continue first-of-a-kind progress like we are currently seeing in our fungal program.”
Employment at the RTP location is expected to grow from about 44 employees to 60 by the end of this year. It houses bioinformatics, genomics, screening, and formulation operations that support both plant and human applications.
The company uses its cell-free RNA manufacturing platform, which is protected by numerous patents, to produce RNA for a variety of agricultural and human health purposes. The technology can build RNA strands that precisely target specific genes in plants, animals, or fungi, beneficially suppressing the activity of those genes.
The company expects to have its first product, an RNA-based agent to control the Colorado potato beetle, registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year. A second product registration, for an agent to control parasitic varroa destructor mites, also is expected in 2022. The mites are a major cause of colony collapse disorder among honeybees that are essential to pollinate many food crops.
The products could lessen dependence on chemical pesticides, which can harm the environment and be limited in their effectiveness.