Agricultural technology firm Monsanto has partnered with Complix NV to develop the latter’s protein therapeutic targeting technology for crop protection applications.
Complix’s Alphabodies are small single chain alpha-helical proteins that are potentially active against a broad range of disease targets. Monsanto will use the tech as part of its plant trait development research.
Bob Reiter, Monsanto’s Vice President of Biotechnology, said: “We believe this technology offers great promise and could contribute to development of new traits to protect plants from pests and diseases.
“We are pleased to work with Complix to develop this promising technology in a way that might deliver on-farm benefits to our grower customers.”
News of the deal will be a welcome change of subject for Monsanto, which was in the headlines yesterday after reports of a study linked one of its existing products - Roundup tolerant maize - to tumour development in rats.
According to researchers led by Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen, France, rats fed the genetically modified-maize experienced hormone imbalances and developed tumours earlier than those fed a non-GM maize diet.
However, since those initial reports scientists have questioned the validity of the research .
Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division at King's College London, told Reuters that the research team did not say how much Roundup maize the rats had been given or details of their growth rate and noted that: "This strain of rat is very prone to mammary tumours particularly when food intake is not restricted."
Similarly Mark Tester, a research professor at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the University of Adelaide, told the news organisation that he had some questions about the finding.
“If the effects are as big as purported, and if the work really is relevant to humans, why aren't the North Americans dropping like flies? GM has been in the food chain for over a decade over there and longevity continues to increase inexorably.”