Pebble Labs Creates Biotechnology for Disease Control

The New Mexico Consortium (NMC) hosts a bi-weekly seminar series held at the NMC Biological Laboratory at 100 Entrada Drive. The latest seminar was held Tuesday, February 13th, by Dr. Richard Sayre on the Los Alamos start-up company Pebble Labs, Inc.

Dr. Sayre's talk was titled, Pebble Labs; designing continuous, sustainable, RNA-mediated disease control systems for multiple host systems.

The Pebble Labs family of companies (Little Fly LabsIron Leaf, and Mermaid Bio) uses a common platform technology to control disease and pests in diverse host systems ranging from mosquitoes, to crop plants and shrimp. The Pebble Labs disease control strategy is based on the production of RNA interference molecules by bacteria living within the host. These RNA interference molecules are designed to suppress the expression of essential pathogen genes.

In the case of animals, such as the mosquito or shrimp, Pebble Labs researchers utilize enteric or endosymbiotic bacteria as the delivery system. In plants, they engineer endophytic bacteria to deliver interfering RNAs.

Recently, Pebble Labs has demonstrated proof-of-concept for the transbiotic control of viruses in mosquitoes, tobacco, and shrimp. Dr. Sayre discussed several of the potential advantages of the technology being developed. In contrast to exogenous application of interfering RNAs to control pathogens, transbiotics should allow for low cost production and an easy delivery of interfering RNAs to the host often assisted by factors that enhance their delivery, mobilization and effectiveness.

Most importantly, Pebble Labs’ transbiotics disease control systems are capable of being deployed over a widespread area very quickly, which is essential when dealing with persistent and emerging diseases and pests in real time.

This method of using interference RNA technology is not only environmentally sustainable, low cost, and rapidly deployable, it also is considered extremely precise and safe, more so than any other pathogen and pest control strategies currently used. In other words, this new technology will selectively incapacitate the disease causing viruses without environmental impact or the eradication of the species. 

This technology is now being developed to address viral, fungal, bacterial and other diseases and pests in multiple host systems.

Pebble Labs will soon have 20 staff working at the NMC Biolab developing new control technology for a variety of human, animal, and plant diseases.

To learn more about this important research go to 

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