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Athenix, a Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based maker of processes and products for agricultural and bioenergy applications, has raked in $10 million from existing investors Hunt Ventures, Intersouth Partners and Polaris Venture Partners, reports PEHub.

The company sells genes and enzymes that can be used to convert biomass sources, such as corn stover,  straw and various agricultural by-products into cellulosic ethanol. It has also developed a process to efficiently extract and ferment sugars from cellulose and hemicellulose, a weaker form of cellulose, into ethanol.

Like other synthetic biology startups we’ve mentioned in the past, including LS9 and Amyris Biotechnologies, Athenix is genetically engineering microbes to produce hydrocarbon-based fuels. It is working to improve their performance under harsh physical and chemical conditions and is streamlining its biocatalysis and fermentation processes.

It also makes specialty chemicals and additives from plant-based materials for agriculture, construction, water treatment and other industries.

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