Monsanto negotiated an exclusive worldwide license to apply biopharma firm Complix’s Alphabody® platform in the agricultural field. The deal also includes options to expand the collaboration across multiple applications within plant agriculture, and Complix retains exclusive rights to use any discoveries made through the collaboration in nonagricultural fields.

Alphabodies are small single-chain alpha-helical proteins that Complix claims combine the specificity of antibodies with small molecule-like properties. The proteins are essentially constructed from three associated alpha-helices connected by flexible linker loops to form a single-chain protein. Based on naturally occurring protein scaffolds and modified through computer-aided design, the resulting molecules can be designed against a broad range of disease targets, including intracellular targets.

Founded in 2008, Belgian firm Complix is leveraging the Alphabody platform to develop therapeutic candidates against autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, and cancer. The firm says its cell-penetrating Alphabodies (CPAB) can be designed against just about any known intracellular target, including those that are intractable to small molecule drugs or biologics.

The deal with Monsanto represents the first in which the platform is being applied in agriculture. “Complix’s expertise in protein targeting technology offers a novel platform to further enhance our trait development capabilities,” explains Bob Reiter, vp for biotechnology at Monsanto. “We believe this technology offers great promise and could contribute to development of new traits to protect plants from pests and diseases.”

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