seal  Purdue News

November 8, 2003

Purdue school receives biotech patents from Solae

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke today (Saturday, 11/8) will announce that The Solae Company is giving Purdue several million dollars worth of technology to produce plant protein-based laundry detergents.

The Solae Company, an alliance between DuPont and Bunge Limited, will give Purdue rights to the technology as well as business plans that will allow for the development of a new type of laundry detergent additive that uses plant protein to clean fabrics better, reduce lint formation and allow clothes to last longer.

The university hopes to commercialize the technology within the state of Indiana, as well as use the technology as a starting point for further research.

"This gift from The Solae Company provides Purdue with a multitude of opportunities," Jischke said. "Not only will the technology provide an advancement in important research in the School of Agriculture, it also will give us the chance to help increase economic growth in the state."

The gift, to be announced to the Purdue President's Council, includes technology that prevents dirt from redepositing on clothes during the washing process and reduces lint formation in the dryer, resulting in brighter colors and clothes that last longer. The dollar value of the gift has been estimated at several million dollars but cannot be determined exactly until the package is sold and researchers test its potential.

Bernard Y. Tao, a Purdue associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering who helped secure the gift, said Purdue is a natural location for the product's development.

"As Indiana looks to carve out niches in emerging bioproducts technologies, the state's position as an agricultural leader gives us an advantage since we produce the raw materials needed to make these products, like corn and soybeans," Tao said. "This is a substantial contribution not only for Purdue, but it also recognizes Indiana's position as a leader in the use of biotechnology for economic development and creation of products for industry and consumers."

Biotechnology refers to the use of biological material to improve products or engineering processes, such as corn-based ethanol fuel, soy-based biodiesel fuels, plastics made from plant polymers instead of petroleum, or even soy-based crayons or candles.

"Consumer bioproduct technologies may not get the media attention that nanotechnology or biomedical advancements do, but how many times in a week do you drive your car, wash your hair or do laundry versus building biosensor DNA chips or visiting the doctor," Tao said. "The potential to affect people's daily lives with these technologies is immense."

Tao said the technology that The Solae Company is providing could have an impact far beyond clean laundry. He sees possibilities that include homeland security, defense and public health.

"There are many developments that can come from the work Solae has done, as well as other bioproducts," Tao said. "Purdue and Indiana are well-positioned to lead the country in developing a new economy based on using biotechnology and agriculture to create industrial and consumer products. We have the opportunity to affect almost every facet of people's lives."

Tom Krinski, director of product development and new technology for The Solae Company, said, "As a leader in the research and application of soy protein, we feel strongly about supporting biotechnology and agricultural research at top universities such as Purdue. We hope this gift will help advance agricultural education at Purdue, further the economic opportunities for Indiana and benefit the environment by using biodegradable products based on renewable resources, reducing our dependency on fossil fuels."

The gift is part of the seven-year Campaign for Purdue, which began in 2000 and has raised $800 million of its $1.3 billion goal.

Campaign fund raising supports the objectives of Purdue's strategic plan, which include efforts to increase funds for student scholarships, faculty recruitment and retention, programs and centers, and facilities and equipment.

DuPont and its subsidiaries have a long history of ties to Purdue. The company has given the university gifts totaling more than $27 million, including almost $22 million during the last three years. The company also has provided almost $6 million in support of research at Purdue.

In 2001 DuPont gave Purdue more than 30 U.S. and foreign patents for two insecticides designed to combat mites and beetles. It was the first gift of patents and technology in Purdue's history.

DuPont employs more than 450 Purdue graduates.

The Solae Company was founded in 1958 and was only producing industrial soy protein products. The business evolved to making food products 15 years later. For more than 30 years, The Solae Company – formerly DuPont Protein Technologies – has invested in fundamental research to further understand the health benefits of soy protein. The company has supported the research on the effects of soy protein on heart health for more than a quarter century. Other areas of study related to soy protein include sports nutrition, cancer prevention and women's health.

Researchers have used soy protein products produced by The Solae Company in approximately 400 completed or ongoing soy studies. Of those studies, 110 focus on the effect of soy protein on heart health, 96 involve the effect of soy protein on women's health issues, including menopause and bone health, and 83 involve research on cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer. More than 100 additional studies explore the effects of soy protein on other conditions.

The majority of current scientific research involving the use of soy protein is conducted using soy protein produced by The Solae Company. More than 180 leading universities and research institutes use the company's soy protein for research initiatives.

Writer: Matt Holsapple, (765) 494-2073,

Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708

Bernard Y. Tao, (765) 494-1183,

Geri Berdak, The Solae Company, (314) 982-2588,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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