DuPont Crop Protection (DuPont) and BioLeap, Inc. (BioLeap) have entered into a research collaboration that will use novel molecular design technology developed at BioLeap to discover proprietary compounds for crop protection.

Under the agreement, BioLeap will use their proprietary technology in computational fragment-based design to identify compounds aimed at biological targets of interest to DuPont. A team of technical experts from both DuPont and BioLeap will then select compounds for synthesis and in vitro and in vivo evaluation by DuPont. Terms of the agreement including discovery milestones were not disclosed.

“This collaboration with BioLeap will add proprietary molecular design to our product development efforts that are focused on meeting future demands for greater agricultural productivity,” said Julia R. Wheeler, director, DuPont Crop Protection R&D.

David Pompliano, chief executive officer of BioLeap, said, “As this alliance demonstrates, the molecular-design capabilities of BioLeap, originally applied to pharmaceutical research, will now find application in other industries that rely on compound discovery. We look forward to working closely with a company of the scientific prowess of DuPont.”

This technology, known as computational fragment-based design, promises to improve early research results by optimizing chemical properties and improving biological efficacy. As a result, the number of compounds that need to be synthesized and tested will be reduced.

BioLeap is a pioneer in computational fragment-based molecular design. In pharmaceutical applications, the company uses its proprietary software to design drug candidates both through its internal programs and in collaboration with partners. BioLeap thus addresses one of the biggest problems in drug discovery: the limitation of drug-like and patentable leads for important but often difficult biological targets. This in silico design capability also finds application in product development for the consumer-product and agriculture industries, promising to achieve greater speed, economy, and odds of success than traditional compound screening. In the first half of 2011, BioLeap has entered research agreements with DuPont, Syngenta, and Unilever.