ST. LOUIS and LIMERICK, Ireland, Jan. 12, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and Limerick-based biotechnology firm, Stokes Bio Limited, announced today that they have entered into a licensing agreement and R&D collaboration, which is expected to help accelerate the pace of new advancements in plant breeding.
Under the agreement, Monsanto has exclusive rights to Stokes Bio's patented technology for use in agriculture.
In plant breeding, genotyping or gene analysis is used to identify the seeds or plants with the most desirable characteristics, such as better yield or disease resistance. Currently, gene analysis is limited by the number of samples that can be processed at one time and the turnaround time per sample.
Stokes Bio's system utilizes microfluidic technology that can provide the same evaluations using much smaller sample sizes – as little as 1/1000th of what is currently required – which continually flow through the system in nanoliter-size droplets. The instrument can evaluate up to 100,000 data points per hour, making it more efficient than any currently-used methods of gene analysis. It is capable of generating more data in less time, using less sample and reagent, and at a lower cost than existing technologies.
Stokes Bio will deliver a number of these next-generation genotyping instruments to Monsanto next year.
"Monsanto's strength lies in our robust discovery engine which fuels our industry-leading R&D pipeline," said Bob Reiter, vice president of breeding technology for Monsanto. "We are constantly looking for opportunities to collaborate with other companies and adopt new technologies that could help speed up the rate of scientific discovery. More efficient gene analysis means we can leverage this knowledge in our technology pipeline and be able to offer our farmer customers innovative products that boost productivity on the farm, faster than ever."
Stokes Bio was established in 2005 by Mark Davies and Tara Dalton, with financing from Kernel Capital, as a spin-off company from the Stokes Institute at University of Limerick. In addition to Kernel Capital, the University of Limerick and Enterprise Ireland also are shareholders in the company.
"The new technology has applications in areas ranging from plant genetics through the entire spectrum of human healthcare," said Mark Davies, co-founder of Stokes Bio. "These new instruments will allow identification of plants with the best gene pool at a much earlier stage. It is necessary to look beyond the technology to appreciate what a step forward this could be in terms of food production."
The agreement is an excellent validation of Stoke Bio's core platform, said Daniel O'Mahony, a partner in Kernel Capital.
"We believe Stokes Bio's technology will revolutionize gene expression profiling in the future," O'Mahony said.
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: www.monsanto.com . Follow our business on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MonsantoCo on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MonsantoCo, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.
About Stokes Bio
Stokes Bio is dedicated to the development and application of microfluidic technology to radically improve and enhance life science research and molecular diagnostics. The company was founded in 2005 as a commercial spin-off from the Stokes Institute, at University of Limerick. Stokes Bio develops microfluidic based systems for genetic analysis, particularly for the measurement of gene expression and gene target detection. The systems can be used in basic life science research and in the molecular diagnosis of cancers, pathogen detection and pharma-genomics. Products under development range from point-of-care diagnostics to high throughput arrays. Further information is available at www.stokesbio.ie.
Riddhi Trivedi-St. Clair, Monsanto Company (314-694-4490)
Charles Hogan and Tim Kinsella, Stokes Bio (353-1-703-8609)
SOURCE Monsanto Company