Monsanto has gotten its hands on a cutting edge rapid detection system for both laboratory and challenging field conditions, after entering an agreement with Two Pore Guys, Inc. (2PG). Initial assays to be developed will be for the detection of certain biomolecules in crops, pests, and pathogens. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“We’re tremendously excited about this partnership,” said Dan Heller, 2PG’s CEO. “Monsanto is the first agriculture company to have assessed our technology as being capable of performing key analyses using our nanopores. Working together, we intend to build out high-sensitivity assays in a simple, easy-to-use form factor that can be used in the lab and in the field. This next phase of evaluation aims to ratify the technology’s robustness in the most challenging testing conditions.”
Unlike biological nanopores used in some DNA sequencing technologies, 2PG’s devices employ silicon nanopore chips, which are simple and inexpensive passive sensors that examine a wide range of individual analytes — including both nucleic acids and proteins — with very high sensitivity. The simplicity of the design may allow for rapid, inexpensive testing in a small, hand-held format.
“Monsanto is looking forward to evaluating 2PG’s novel, rapid, and portable detection platform within our testing operations,” said Tom Adams, Vice President and Biotechnology Lead for Monsanto. “Advancements in modern agriculture are increasingly driven by innovations in biology, data science, and digitization. Technologies like this are consistent with our work to deliver more productive and sustainable solutions for agriculture.”
“The underlying technology was also used in our recently presented liquid biopsy results,” added Heller. “While Monsanto is the first partner in the agriculture market, we have similar relationships with companies spanning multiple markets, including human and animal diagnostics, and environmental monitoring.”
2PG’s technology is an open platform, enabling anyone to create detection assays for any use, from basic research and development to commercial purposes. Assays are commercialized like apps for a smartphone — the assay developer makes a test for a specific molecular target, and can then set its own pricing and sell those tests in the marketplace. Sales revenue is shared with 2PG on a negotiated basis.