The aim of this collaboration is to develop innovative solutions to improve control of malaria and dengue fever in countries where these diseases are endemic.
Monheim, Germany / West Palm Beach, USA, October 27, 2010 – Bayer CropScience and SentiSearch Inc. have entered into a two-year research agreement to cooperate in the identification of new molecules targeting odorant receptors in insects. The aim of this collaboration, which also involves arrangements with Columbia University and Rockefeller University, is to develop innovative solutions to improve control of malaria and dengue fever in countries where these diseases are endemic. SentiSearch will receive an upfront license fee, followed by milestone payments and royalties on sales. Further financial terms were not disclosed.
Bayer CropScience will contribute to this project its extensive library of compounds, screening capabilities and its experience in chemical synthesis and the development of insecticides. In turn, SentiSearch and the Universities will together provide proprietary assay technologies and knowledge in the field of chemoreception in insects. This will enable Bayer CropScience to use these assays to identify compounds which could modify the activity of insect odor receptors. In addition to possible benefits in the field of public health, these activities could also result in innovative products with a new mode of action capable of preventing damage to agricultural crops caused by insects. Bayer CropScience will determine whether compounds successfully identified will be developed for agricultural applications.
This project will build on the groundbreaking research carried out by Drs. Richard Axel and Leslie Vosshall, who discovered chemosensory receptors that are responsible for odor perception. Various insect behaviors are guided by the sense of smell, including the ability to locate food, humans, animals, and mating partners. Mosquitoes, which transmit dangerous tropical diseases to humans, use the CO2 content of exhaled air and other New molecules for efficient insect control host odors to locate their hosts. The aim is for the new molecules to block the relevant receptors, which would prevent the insect from perceiving human odors. Receptors have also been discovered that are responsible for male courtship behavior and for guiding the deposition of eggs by female insects on their host plants. Professor Axel was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking studies on olfactory perception.
“Bayer CropScience is the market leader in vector control in the public health and agricultural settings, including animal health,” said Dr. Alexander Klausener, Head of Research at Bayer CropScience. “Our activities include playing a significant role in the prevention of malaria. This new cooperation with leading U.S. scientists Nobel Laureate Professor Richard Axel from Columbia University and Professor Leslie Vosshall from Rockefeller University will give us access to a new and innovative approach to insect control. This, in turn, will present us with an opportunity to expand our leading position in this field.”
“Through this agreement, we have brought together united leading researchers around a mission: to control the spread of malaria and other insect-borne diseases around the world. It is our further belief that this initiative may yield additional significant opportunities in health and agriculture,” commented Joseph K. Pagano, Chief Executive Officer at SentiSearch. “We are pleased to be working with Bayer CropScience and the superb scientists who have been involved at Columbia and Rockefeller Universities,” added Mr. Pagano.
This collaboration is part of a research project performed in Professor Axel´s laboratory at Columbia University and in Professor Vosshall’s laboratory at Rockefeller University. The project funded by a Grant from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health through the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. One of the goals of that initiative is to improve the control of insects that affect human health, with the ultimate eradication of malaria, dengue fever, and other insect-borne diseases in the developing world.
About Bayer CropScience
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience AG, a subsidiary of Bayer AG with annual sales of about EUR 6.5 billion (2009), is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of 18,700 and is represented in more than 120 countries. This and further news is available at: www.press.bayercropscience.com.
SentiSearch, Inc. holds certain olfaction intellectual property assets primarily consisting of an exclusive world wide license issued by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, as well as certain patent applications. SentiSearch has been working with Professor Axel and his team in the area of olfaction and has also been in contact at various times in this period with leading scientists at Rockefeller University. These efforts resulted in the collaborative agreement with Bayer CropScience AG in September 2010.
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