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Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (GNSC) And Monsanto Company (MON) Team Up With The USDA To Map Soybean Genome

10/19/2005 5:12:58 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. and ST. LOUIS, March 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- An agreement between Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. , Monsanto Company and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is expected to provide U.S. soybean plant breeders with new technology for more accurate and efficient plant breeding research.

The project's intent is to map single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) DNA markers in soybeans, creating a detailed molecular genetic map of the soybean that includes a large number of SNP DNA markers along with pre-existing SSR (simple sequence repeat) markers. In addition, all of the map position information and use of soybean SNP markers covered by the agreement will be freely available to all U.S. soy breeders and geneticists, creating the first publicly available map of its kind.

A SNP is a specific location along a chromosome where there is a variation in the genetic sequence. This variation can be used as a genetic marker. Scientists often use genetic markers as a tag to identify the specific location of a genetic trait on a chromosome. By tagging the desired trait, plant breeders can breed plants more efficiently and more accurately.

"Monsanto is proud to be a part of this important research initiative," said Monsanto's Global Genotyping Lead Robert Reiter. "We hope that our work with Genaissance and the USDA will lead to a better understanding of the soybean, and help develop ways to deliver improved soybean varieties faster and more efficiently, putting new technology into the hands of public soy researchers."

The collaborators plan to make the information available in Soybase, the USDA Soybean Genome Database, and dbSNP, the National Center for Biotechnology Information SNP database, as well as publish the information in scientific journals, so plant breeders have access to the important data.

The SNPs that are being mapped were discovered at the USDA, ARS Beltsville, Md., with support from the United Soybean Board.

"Because all of the SNPs are located in genes, the result of the work will be a genetic map that defines 'gene-rich regions' of the soybean genome," said Perry Cregan, USDA-ARS researcher. "It is the gene-containing regions that are of greatest interest to soybean breeders and geneticists who want to develop genetically superior soybean varieties with enhanced seed quality, greater disease resistance, and superior drought tolerance and yield."

"What we learn from this research will be critical in our search for additional insights into ways to improve the characteristics, production rates, and disease resistance of a variety of field crops, including soybeans, and other plant species," said Gerald F. Vovis, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Genaissance Pharmaceuticals.

ARS scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, discovered the soybean SNPs and saw value for public researchers in having the SNPs mapped. As part of the agreement, Monsanto will provide funding to support the mapping, which Genaissance will perform, given its expertise as a SNP genotyping services provider.

Today's announcement builds on previous announcements that target public sector research.

Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is developing innovative products based on its proprietary pharmacogenomic technology and has a revenue-generating business in DNA and pharmacogenomic products and services. Genaissance also markets its proprietary FAMILION(TM) Test, designed to detect mutations responsible for causing Familial Long QT and Brugada Syndromes, two causes of sudden cardiac death. The company's product development strategy is focused on drug candidates with promising clinical profiles and finding genetic markers to identify a responsive patient population. This strategy enables Genaissance to leverage existing clinical data and, thus, reduce the costs and risks associated with traditional drug development and increase the probability of clinical success and commercialization. For more information on Genaissance, visit our website at: .

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. For more information on Monsanto, see: .

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements about the expected growth and development of Genaissance's business, such as Genaissance's ability to detect associations between clinical outcomes and genetic variation, the ability to assess how genetic variation can affect drug response, efforts to build a drug candidate pipeline, the timing and outcome of its genetic testing programs, the timing of its ability to enter into drug development collaborations with pharmaceutical companies, the ability of Genaissance to apply its technologies to the development, marketing and prescribing of drugs and Genaissance's ability to detect associations between clinical outcomes and genetic variation. Such statements are subject to certain factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results, events and performance to differ materially from those referred to in such statements, including, but not limited to, the extent to which genetic markers (haplotypes) are predictive of clinical outcomes and drug efficacy and safety, the attraction of new business and strategic partners, the adoption of our technologies by the pharmaceutical industry, the acceptance of our cardiac tests by health care providers, the timing and success of clinical trials, competition from pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostics companies, the strength of our intellectual property rights and those risks identified in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2004, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 15, 2004, and in other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission from time to time. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgment of Genaissance as of the date of this release. Genaissance disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statement.

Monsanto Company

CONTACT: Gerald Vovis of Genaissance, +1-203-786-3423, or Ben Kampelmanof Monsanto Company, +1-314-694-6192, or Perry Cregan of USDA-ARS,+1-301-504-5723

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