Agile Sciences, a startup that is developing treatments targeting drug-resistant bacterial infections, has secured another federal grant.

This one is for $150,000 and is a Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation under the Small Business Innovation Research program.

The grant is focused on: “Enhancing the Bactericidal Activity of Copper: An Economically Viable Solution for Lowering Copper Usage Rates in Agriculture.”

Agile will work with N.C. State Professor Dr. David Ritchie to evaluate Agile’s Agilyte technology for plant disease control.

“Currently, millions of pounds of copper are sprayed onto plants each year in an effort to control the spread of plant pathogens,” Agile said in announcing the grant. “This copper is released into the environment, resulting in contamination of soil and waterways and deleterious effects on the ecosystem. Furthermore, pathogens are becoming resistant to copper pesticides, necessitating even higher rates of copper usage. Agile Sciences’ proprietary compounds are able to remove bacteria and fungi from their protective biofilm state so that the microbes are significantly more susceptible to copper treatments. When the Agilyte technology is included in the treatment regimen, lower rates of copper products can be used, thus reducing the environmental impact of the copper.”

According to Dr. Ritchie, the Agile “compounds may potentially alleviate the need to use high rates of copper. Futhermore, these compounds may act as ‘resistance breakers’ by enhancing copper’s effectiveness against copper-resistant strains.”

Dr. Christian Melander, co-founder of Agile, has worked with Dr. Ritchie since 2008.

Agile secured a $545,000 federal grant last fall.

Agile is commercializing technology developed by Dr. Melander and Dr. John Cavanagh at N.C. State.