Monsanto Teams up With Industry Leaders in Protein Design Software Development

June 11, 2009

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New Collaboration Could Help Shorten Project Timelines for Agricultural Biotechnology Products

ST. LOUIS and PASADENA, CA., June 11, 2009 — Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and Pasadena-based Protabit LLC, today announced a two-year collaboration to develop new tools for protein design and optimization.

All organisms produce a diverse set of proteins to express characteristic attributes, which in plants can include tolerance to drought and pests. Monsanto agricultural biotechnology researchers use high-throughput protein design and optimization technologies to rapidly design more effective proteins to confer beneficial traits in crops.

Development of improved software tools for protein design and optimization can help shorten the product discovery process. This would enable Monsanto to more quickly identify pipeline gene candidates in support of the company’s sustainability goal of doubling yields in its core crops of corn, cotton, and soybeans by 2030, compared to a base year of 2000.

“We believe that utilizing state-of-the-art protein design software, coupled with our high-throughput gene synthesis and protein purification platforms, will further strengthen our R&D pipeline and maintain Monsanto’s leadership in the field of biotech crops,” said Steve Padgette, vice president of biotechnology for Monsanto. “The partnership with Protabit will help Monsanto stay on the leading edge of innovation and ensure that farmers continue to have access to valuable traits as quickly as possible, so that they can continue to boost on-farm productivity. We are excited by the opportunity to work closely with the Protabit team to accelerate our unique approach to high-throughput protein design pioneered by our research teams in Cambridge, Massachusetts and St. Louis.”

Protabit is a start-up company founded by Stephen Mayo, PhD, of the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Mayo is a leader in the field of computational protein design and expects the software created by Protabit to have broad applicability as a protein improvement and discovery tool in biotechnology.

“Recent advances in protein sequence design coupled to robotic expression of proteins will dramatically improve the efficacy of computational protein design methodology,” Mayo said. “We look forward to collaborating with Monsanto on both the development of new methodology and its application to protein design projects that lead to new and/or improved products in the ag biotech arena.”

Under the agreement:

  • Protabit will develop new software code to integrate computational approaches for protein optimization allowing for exchange of information across platforms thus providing more flexibility and easier assimilation of new breakthroughs, speeding up the process of protein design and optimization.
  • Protabit will also work on developing new computational approaches for protein optimization.

Monsanto will have exclusive rights to tools developed by Protabit for use in the fields of plant improvement and agriculture.

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit:

About Protabit LLC

Protabit LLC is a recently formed company focused on integrating existing computational protein design methods and developing the next generation of protein design software. This next generation of software will include recent advances in multi-state design, protein library design, and the use of novel hardware such as graphics processing units (GPUs) for ultra high-performance computing.