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Viral Genetics Launches VG Energy

December 8, 2010
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

The pharmaceutical developer Viral Genetics, Inc. has launched a subsidiary called VG Energy, Inc. to market the company’s algae-enhancing technology, which VG claims has demonstrated the ability to increase the yield of oil production from algae by as much as 300%.

“We can manipulate plant cells so that they store oil and eventually release those reserves instead of burning the fat for fuel when glucose stores are low. The end result is more oil is available for processing into a biofuel,” said Viral Genetics’ CEO Haig Keledjian, who will serve as CEO of the new subsidiary.

Studies of VG’s technology were undertaken at the Texas Life Sciences Collaboration Center, with funding provided by the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, a $200 million initiative created by the Texas Legislature in 2005. VG Energy lead researcher, Dr. M. Karen Newell-Rogers, recently obtained a $750,000 grant from the fund to study and develop the yield-enhancing technology in her academic research laboratories at the Texas AgriLife Research Blacklands campus.

John Sheehan, advisor to Viral Genetics who was introduced to the company via Richard Branson and his Carbon War Room to assist with this effort, said, “They are in the right place at the right time with this technology. The VG Energy brand makes the organization more approachable to all players, big and small, and we are excited to enter into the testing, partnering and negotiating stage this early in the company’s development.”

Dr. Newell-Rogers is an inventor on a patent and several patent applications under exclusive license to VG Energy directed to methods for dramatically increasing the volume of lipids naturally produced by algae and other plants. “Our research seems to indicate that we can trigger plant cells to increase their fat stores,” said Newell-Rogers. “We can manipulate plant cells so that they store oil and eventually release those reserves instead of burning the fat for fuel when glucose stores are low. The end result is more oil is available for processing into a biofuel.”

Dr Newell-Rogers recently presented her findings at an energy conference attended by T. Boone Pickens, Ted Turner, James Cameron, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Under Secretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy Dr. Kristina Johnson, among others.

San Marino, California-based Viral Genetics is in the business of discovering drug therapies. Founded in 1994, the biotech company is researching treatments for HIV/AIDS, Lyme Disease, Strep, Staph and drug resistant tumors. Their wholly owned subsidiary, VG Energy, is dedicated to exploring biofuel and agricultural applications.

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