RNA Tech Firm GreenLight Biosciences to Go Public in $1.5 Billion SPAC Deal – The Wall Street Journal

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GreenLight Biosciences Inc. is combining with a special-purpose acquisition company to go public in a deal that values the RNA-technology firm at about $1.5 billion, the companies said.

A developer of mRNA vaccines to fight Covid-19 and other diseases, GreenLight is simultaneously working on RNA-based sustainable alternatives to pesticides and herbicides. By reproducing cell growth without actually using live cells, the Boston-based company hopes to address the challenge of making vaccines and other RNA products at scale.

GreenLight is combining with the SPAC Environmental Impact Acquisition Corp., which is backed by investment bank Canaccord Genuity Group Inc.

Founded in 2008, GreenLight aims to capitalize on recent advancements in technology using RNA, a nucleic acid found in living cells. One type, known as messenger RNA, carries instructions encoded in DNA for cells to follow. Developing mRNA vaccines for diseases such as Covid-19 can be faster than traditional vaccine technologies because they essentially teach human cells to produce a protein similar to one found on the virus, which then triggers an immune response.

GreenLight is one of many companies rushing to also produce mRNA shots for the seasonal flu and hopes to make one to fight the life-threatening blood disorder sickle-cell disease. At the same time, it is developing sustainable pesticide alternatives using a process called RNA interference that regulates the production of proteins vital to specific pests.