San Francisco, California (PRWEB) February 24, 2016
AgGenetics, a Nashville, TN-based animal health and biotechnology company, is launching a $5 million equity financing campaign on AgFunder, the leading agriculture-focused online investment platform. The company uses cutting edge biotechnology developed for human medicine to improve livestock health and productivity.
Demand for animal protein is estimated to grow by nearly 40% in the next 20 years. Yet, there is no effective or economically viable model for addressing this demand using common technology, or even through clearing the world’s remaining wilderness.
AgGenetics is developing a suite of products to improve animal productivity that could alone meet the increased demand. Using modern biotechnology techniques initially developed for human medicine — gene discovery and editing — the company is focused on technologies to help farmers combat common ailments that impact livestock production and increase the productivity of cattle. The company’s defining feature has been its ability to identify the right genes in a timely fashion, using genomic and data analysis approaches rarely used in animal health.
AgGenetics currently has three products in late stages of development, including a low-cost test for brisket disease (also called Bovine high-mountain disease), a copper deficiency and toxicity test, and a new breed of heat tolerant cattle. The technology is protected by more than 20 patent applications in countries around the world, including the U.S., Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.
“From my many years in the cattle industry, I understood the top concerns,” says Dr. Warren Gill, Co-founder and CEO of AgGenetics. “But it wasn’t until I came together with Dr. West that we found efficient ways to solve them. With this fundraising, it will help us get our first suite of products to market.”
Dr. Warren Gill and Dr. James West, the company’s founders, are leading experts in human and animal health. West, the Chief Science Officer, is the head of an independently-funded laboratory at Vanderbilt University and has been using data collection and analysis to identify genes for human medicine for many years. Gill, a cattle rancher and former Chair of Agribusiness/Science at MTSU, has assembled a team with over 100 years of experience in the cattle industry. The company is also advised by advisory board member Dr. Jerry Caulder, Finistere Ventures Chairman and former Mycogen CEO, one of the first in the field of agriculture biotechnology.
AgGenetics’ first two products are its diagnostic test kits for copper deficiency/toxicity and for brisket disease, which have an annual cost of $2.8B and $130M to U.S. cattle industry, respectively. Copper deficiency is one of the most prevalent nutritional issues facing cattle and affects about one third of them, impacting weight gain, fertility, and milk yields, yet there is still no cost effective, accurate and non-invasive procedure for detecting this condition. Brisket disease affects about 5 percent of cattle at altitudes above 5,000 feet, when they suffer right heart failure leading to swelling in the chest from fluid retention. AgGenetics estimates there are around 8.8 million cattle at these altitudes. The first sales for both products are expected Q2 2017.
AgGenetics’ third product is a potential game-changer for the many cattle farmers in warm to hot climates like Brazil, Australia, India, and much of the Southern Hemisphere, which have 82% of the world’s cattle population. Currently, these farmers can only raise certain types of cattle, which are far less productive than Northern Hemisphere breeds such as the Aberdeen Angus, and the meat less desirable. AgGenetics technology adds genes for white short hair and dark skin to the Angus, creating a “White Angus” with ability to thrive in hot climates. Its first calves are expected to be born in early 2017, with multiple heat tolerant genetic lines ready for market in 2018.
The current funding round will be used for commercialization of both the testing products and the additional development and trials for the white angus.
“AgGenetics has an incredibly important technology platform for the cattle industry,” said Michael Dean, Cofounder and COO at AgFunder. “The team’s combined cross-functional skills and expertise in both genetics and the livestock industry means that they can execute on their current vision of breeding more productive cattle and cheaper, faster, less invasive testing, and ultimately on future technology in the pipeline.”
 Rabobank, Agriculture, Roundtable Conference November 2010.
 AgGenetics’ calculation combining the number of affected animals according to the Aphis/USDA Beef 1997 study, health impacts per animal according to the National Research Council’s “Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle”, and State of Tennessee extension estimates for the costs associated with these health impacts.
 Assessing the heat tolerance of 17 beef cattle genotypes, JB Gaughan, TL Mader, SM Holt, ML Sullivan, GL Hahn, International journal of biometeorology 54 (6), 617-627, May 21, 2009.
AgGenetics, based in Nashville, TN, is using modern biotechnology techniques used in human medicine — gene discovery and editing — to develop a suite of products to improve livestock health and productivity. The company’s first products include tests for brisket disease (also called Bovine high-mountain disease) and copper deficiency and toxicity, as well as a new breed of heat tolerant cattle.
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Contact: Melissa Tilney, melissa(at)agfunder(dot)com
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