Venture Profile: Progenesis Technologies, LLC

Progenesis has discovered genetic techniques which allow bacteria to continually produce high amounts of alginate. Using patent-pending technology, the company believes it can produce alginate at a lower cost than seaweed alginate.

CEO: Richard M. Niles, PhD
Location: West Virginia, US
Industry: Pharma & Biotech
Venture is: Seed Level

Progenesis Technologies, LLC was formed in April of 2006 as a spin-off company from Marshall University, resulting from Dr. Hongwei Yu’s discoveries on the signal for alginate production (patent pending) by Pseudomonas aurginosa. Dr. Yu has made a second discovery, via genetic engineering, that further enhances the amount of alginate produced by Pseudomonas sp. This is being submitted as a provisional patent and the research has been accepted for journal publication. Mr. Richard Niles, President of Progenesis Technologies, tells NWN that the company has raised seed capital through a private placement offering with angel investors in the Huntington, West Virginia area. They commenced operations in late January of 2008 via space through the Chemical Alliance Zone Biotech Incubator located in the Dow Technical Park, West Virginia.

According to Mr. Niles, Progenesis’ goals are to demonstrate the feasibility to mass produce different types of the biopolymer alginate by bacterial fermentation as an alternative to the current method of harvesting and extraction of alginate from seaweed. Through genetic engineering, alginates will be customized for the cosmetic, moisture control, radioactivity decontamination and drug delivery markets. Collectively, these global markets amounted to ~ $70 billion in 2007.


This image shows the copious amount of alginate produced by one of our Pseudomonas sp. mutants grown on bacterological plates. The color is due to a bacterial pigment which is removed during downstream processing. Courtesy of Progenesis Technologies

At this year’s TechConnect Summit (co-located with NSTI Nanotech), the company is looking for investors for its second round of funding that they project to be required in about 14 months. The company is also interested in corporate partners who have expertise and capacity for large scale fermentation manufacture of bacterial alginate, and companies that currently extract and sell alginate from seaweed might be interested in its alternate technology.

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