Our Story

EcoPhage is an agribiotechnology company, providing sustainable and effective, phage-based crop protection solutions to manage bacterial plant diseases. Phages are naturally occurring viruses (bacteriophages) that target bacteria and are safe and inert to humans, animals, and plants.

The company’s proprietary technological platform is licensed from the Weizmann Institute of Science, developed by Professor Rotem Sorek, a recognized world leader known for his groundbreaking research on the interactions between bacteria and bacteriophages.
Our platform technology consists of screening and characterization methodology of phage collections, resulting in the selection of the most promising phage candidates (“super phages”). These phages form a basis for highly effective and sustainable phage cocktails that meet multiple agricultural product attributes for antimicrobial crop protection.
The company is backed by The Trendlines Group, the Bayer Trendlines Ag Innovation Fund and the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA).

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We select the best phages for our products, and generate the most optimal combinations
to create “super phage cocktails” for superior crop protection

Team

Orly Savion, PhD
CEO

Orly Savion has wide scientific and technological experience in diverse disciplines and holds strong business development capabilities

Prior to joining EcoPhage, Orly led the formation of a broad portfolio of technological licensing deals for Yeda R&D, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science, where she served as a senior director of business development.
As part of her role at Yeda, Orly initiated substantial multi-million commercialization achievements, including start-up spinouts, licensing deals and strategic collaborations, and business activities with MNCs, SMEs, VCs and accelerators, combining relations with the IIA and the academic staff.
Orly completed her PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science and holds a MSc and BSc in engineering of biotechnology and food from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

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Prof. Rotem Sorek
Scientific Founder

Full Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, The Weizmann Institute of Science

Prof. Sorek is a world leader in phage biology and phage-bacteria interactions. He holds a PhD in human genomics from Tel Aviv University, and completed his postdoc in microbial metagenomics at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Prior to joining the Weizmann Institute, Prof. Sorek headed the Genomics Research Group at Compugen (Nasdaq:CGEN).
Prof. Sorek is an author of numerous scientific publications in top-tier journals, and an inventor of more than 35 patents. Many of his technologies were licensed to industry and he currently serves as a scientific founder of several companies, including BiomX Ltd. (Nasdaq:PHGE) and Pantheon Biosciences. He is also an EMBO member, and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

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Olga Nissan, PhD
Technology Manager

Dr. Nissan combines a strong R&D background in microbiology together with regulation affairs experience and management skills.

Dr. Nissan brings knowledge and experience in molecular biology specializing in microbiology and virology. She is qualified in production process upscaling and fermentations, and an expert in regulation affairs, including QA/QC and GMP

Prior to her position at EcoPhage, Dr. Nissan was a microbiology laboratory manager at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc., and a Senior Scientist, in charge of a microbiology team at BiomX (phage-based therapy drug company). Overall, Dr. Nissan has rich leadership experience with R&D and clinical teams.

Dr. Nissan completed her Postdoctoral research and PhD at Weizmann Institute of Science.

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Sammy Frenk, PhD
Senior Scientist

Dr. Frenk is an experienced microbiologist and bioinformatician,  working with environmental and clinical samples to interpret genomic data.

Before his current position, he was working as a Senior Researcher at the National Institute for Antibiotic Resistance & Infection Control, the Ministry of Health, where he specialized in characterizing bacterial resistance mechanism.

Dr. Frenk holds a PhD in Agroecology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and completed his post-doctoral fellowship at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, University of Queensland, Australia.

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Itay Keren, MSc
Phytopathologist

Itay holds a BSc in Plant Sciences and an MSc in Agroecology and Plant Health, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem

He has a wide agronomist experience including working in an ecological-biocontrol plant solution start-up. Itay specializes in plant diseases and crop protection.

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Gavriel Friesem, MSc
Phytopathologist

Gavriel holds BSc and MSc in Agroecology and Plant Health from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem

He is experienced in working with plant /bacteria systems and has an extensive agronomic background.

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Shiri Topman- Rakover
Phytopathologist

Shiri holds an MSc in Agroecology and Plant Health from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is about to complete her Ph.D. in the same department

Shiri specializes in bacterial plant disease and antimicrobial agents.

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Board of Directors

Nitza Kardish, PhD
Board Member

CEO, Trendlines Agrifood Fund; Vice Chair, Trendlines Agrifood Innovation Center.

Nitza Kardish has 28 years of experience working in senior management positions at life science companies.
Previously, Nitza Kardish served as the CEO of Trendlines incubator in Israel, VP of BD at TechnionSeed, managed the business development activities at Rafael Development Cooperation; served as CEO at Clal Life Sciences and at UroGyn.
Nitza Kardish earned her PhD and MSc (Com Luda) in life science from Tel Aviv University and studied law at Tel Aviv University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Plant Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

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Johan Botterman, PhD
Board Member

Open Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Bayer Crop Science.

Johan has more than 30 years’ experience in R&D strategy, managing R&D projects, and strategic partnerships in seeds and traits at several companies, Plant Genetic Systems, Hoechst Schering AgrEvo, Aventis CropScience and Bayer Crop Science.

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Our Technology

The Need

There is a dire and immediate need for crop protection against bacterial diseases.

Farmers are seeking effective and sustainable solutions to combat over 200 bacterial diseases, which cause billions of dollars in annual yield damage to major crops globally. Current synthetic pesticides include a wide use of copper and antibiotics, yet these are insufficient due to poor efficacy and resistance development of the disease-causing bacteria. Since many common synthetic pesticides have environmental repercussions their use is being further limited due to regulation and public pressure. Antibiotics are less accepted publicly, especially due to their antimicrobial resistance, which is one of the biggest health concerns of this decade.

 

Bacteriophages have been recognized as natural enemies of bacteria for decades. These entities efficiently eradicate only the target bacteria and are inert to humans, animals, and plants, making them promising candidates for targeted biological crop protection. However, because of insufficient efficacy and lack of technologies for pinpointing the “right” phages, this promise has yet to be exploited for achieving highly effective solutions that can withstand bacteria resistance.

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Sustainable

Naturally occurring, biodegradable agents
Effective

Efficiently eradicate target bacteria. Reduced resistance through cocktails construction
Safe

No effect on humans, animals, plants, and beneficial bacteria

The EcoPhage Solution

EcoPhage is at the forefront of crop phage biocontrol. Our solutions rely on rationally-designed bacteriophage cocktails that target and eradicate harmful bacteria on crops. The company’s proprietary technological platform screens its enriched phage collection, characterizes and selects the promising phage candidates to be used as a basis for highly effective and sustainable phage cocktails for antimicrobial crop protection.

The company is currently targeting two indications consisting of key pathogens, which cause significant damage in tomato and pepper plants worldwide. Future product expansion will be based on market needs. EcoPhage only uses non-GMO, naturally occurring phages. These undergo extensive screening, characterization, and selection processes to generate the most efficient “super-phage” cocktails. We are committed to delivering superior products to farmers that can aid in the fight against bacterial plant diseases.

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Technological Platform
Seeking the “super-phage” combination

Phages are the most abundant entities in nature, with their number estimated at >1031. However, only a small fraction of phages possess all the attributes required for product development, and of these, only a subset can be used synergistically in a cocktail.

At EcoPhage, we have the technology platforms and know-how to identify and select these “super phages” that are the most suitable for use in crop-phage treatment.

Inhibition of Target Bacterial Growth by EcoPhage Cocktail

Our technology stands on three major pillars:

  • High throughput screening of active phages that can eradicate target bacteria
  • Functional and genetic characterization to identify the most promising “super phages” – those that are most suitable for further product development
  • Rationally designed super phage cocktails through identification of phages that are most suitable to work together synergistically, while significantly reducing the chances for bacterial resistance
EcoPhage’s rationally-designed, proprietary cocktail prevents bacterial resistance
Knowledge Center
What are bacteriophages?

Bacteriophages (aka phages) are natural enemies of bacteria, derived from the Greek word “phago” which means to eat, making them “bacteria eaters”.

Phage safety

Phages are natural entities that exist everywhere in nature. In fact, we encounter millions of phages on any typical day. They effectively kill their target-specific bacteria without affecting anything else in their surroundings and are safe for humans, plants, and the environment.

Phages vs. antibiotics

Two major attributes make phages a lot more desirable for biological control:
1) Specificity: Phages are highly specific and only kill target bacteria, whereas antibiotics may harm many bacteria indiscriminately no matter if they are beneficial or damaging to the ecosystem.
2) Self-amplification: An antibiotic is only as useful as the concentration applied. Therefore large amounts are needed in order to be effective. Phages, however, can self-amplify at the site of infection in a chain reaction, i.e. each phage can multiply and kill thousands of bacteria.

Bacterial resistance: phages and antibiotics

Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics due to naturally occurring genetic mutations. The bacterial resistance creates an undesirable need to use increased doses of existing antibiotics as well as a demand to find new antibiotics to overcome mutations (very limited possibilities).

Phages are naturally, eco-friendly accruing antibiotics against specific bacteria. In order to overcome a bacteria’s ability to develop resistance to phage-based solutions, EcoPhage rationally designs cocktails of super phages. Phages are selected based on their ability to kill target bacteria through different pathways. So, it is highly unlikely that bacteria will develop resistance against all cocktail phages while still maintaining their ability to cause disease.

The source of our phages

Our phages are derived from nature! Phages are found everywhere that bacteria exist. We collect our phages from many diverse sources.

Phages are used for protection/therapy

Phages have been used successfully for more than a century to combat bacterial infections. They became less popular when antibiotics were discovered and commonly used, but now, phages are making a massive comeback as more and more antibiotics become useless due to antimicrobial resistance.

Does EcoPhage use genetically modified phages?

No, we only use natural phages. We believe that with such great diversity, this gift from nature is all we need. It is simply a question of finding the best phage combinations for the job.

What happens to the phages after they kill the bacteria?

Phages can only multiply in the presence of their bacterial targets. Once all target bacteria are destroyed the phages become inert and eventually biodegrade back into the environment.

What sort of safety tests will your products undergo?

As with any biological product, our phages will undergo specific regulatory pathway testing before being released for commercial use. The process involves presenting product efficiency against target bacteria and safety usage for agricultural applications.

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Contact Us

EcoPhage Ltd. 3 Pinhas Sapir Street, Nes-Ziona, Israel
We would love to hear from you, please email us at info@ecophage.com or use the online form