INDIANAPOLIS and RICHMOND, Calif., June 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Dow AgroSciences LLC and Sangamo BioSciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: SGMO) announced today the successful completion of research milestones as part of their joint Research and Commercial License Agreement. These milestones represent the successful application of Sangamo's zinc finger DNA-binding protein (ZFP) technology to the generation of specific traits in two major crop species -- maize and canola.
"Our collaboration with Sangamo continues to be spectacularly successful," said Jerome Peribere, president and chief executive officer of Dow AgroSciences. "These milestones build on our earlier achievements and demonstrate the versatility and broad applicability of the ZFP platform to both regulate and modify genes in commercially important plant species. We have now proven that the ZFP technology can accelerate the process of 'trait stacking', which will result in a shorter path to commercialization of crops containing new traits. We believe ZFP technology has the power to truly transform our industry."
Peribere points out that the technology also allows control of the expression of existing genes. Many genes have already been identified in crop species that control the development of major traits relevant to agriculture such as seed quality, yield, and resistance to environmental stresses. Yet until now there has not been a technology that allows precise control of the activity of these genes. ZFP technology provides such an approach and its unique advantage, in addition to its efficiency, is its demonstrated flexibility. The technology can be used to regulate or modify any gene in any species.
Scientists at Dow AgroSciences, in collaboration with Sangamo scientists, used ZFP Nucleases (ZFNs(TM)) to place a herbicide resistance gene into a specified location of the maize genome in a rapid, single-step process. The precise insertion of the gene into the targeted location significantly advances the ability to stack a trait with other commercially valuable traits and accelerate the breeding process to deliver a launch-ready variety. This achievement demonstrates the potential value and versatility of targeted transgene insertion into crops.
Sangamo's ZFP transcription factor (ZFP TF(TM)) technology was used to achieve the second milestone, the control of the expression of a native gene in canola, a major food oil crop species in North America and in Asia. The ZFP TF was engineered at Sangamo to enable scientists at Dow AgroSciences to regulate a gene involved in a key step of oil biosynthesis and to change the metabolic profile of plant tissue.
"It has been both exciting and gratifying to witness the successful application of our ZFP technology in plants in collaboration with the Dow AgroSciences team," said Edward Lanphier, Sangamo's president and chief executive officer. "Dow AgroSciences has had the foresight to recognize the power and potential of our technology and the expertise to rapidly implement it successfully into its precision trait development program in commercially relevant crop species. They are leading the way in the development of innovative applications in plant biotechnology."
The three-year agreement initiated October 2005 provides Dow AgroSciences with access to Sangamo's proprietary ZFP technology for the development of products in plants and plant cell cultures. During the initial three-year research term, Dow AgroSciences has the option to obtain a commercial license that will allow them to sell products incorporating or derived from plant cells generated using Sangamo's ZFP technology, including agricultural crops, industrial products and plant-derived biopharmaceuticals, and to grant sublicenses to other companies in the industry.
ZFPs are the dominant class of naturally occurring transcription factors in organisms from yeast to humans. Transcription factors, which are found in the nucleus of every cell, bind to DNA to regulate gene expression. The ability to selectively control specific genes is emerging as a critical tool in modern biotechnology. Though there are many kinds of transcription factors, only ZFPs are amenable to engineering and precise targeting to a particular gene or genes of interest. By engineering ZFPs that recognize a specific DNA sequence Sangamo scientists have created ZFP transcription factors (ZFP TFs) that can control gene expression and consequently, cell function.
Sangamo has also developed sequence-specific ZFNs for precision gene modification and targeted gene insertion. These technologies have the potential to play a major role in bringing new discoveries in genomics forward to the marketplace. The use of Sangamo's ZFP technology to enable the efficient and reproducible generation of combinations or stacks of multiple traits and the insertion of new traits could address increasing demand for crops for food and fuel.
About Dow AgroSciences LLC
Dow AgroSciences LLC (NYSE: DOW), based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, is a top-tier agricultural company that combines the power of science and technology with the "Human Element" to constantly improve what is essential to human progress. Dow AgroSciences provides innovative technologies for crop protection, pest and vegetation management, seeds, traits, and agricultural biotechnology to serve the world's growing population. Global sales for Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, are $3.8 billion. Learn more at http://www.dowagro.com.
Sangamo BioSciences, Inc. is focused on the research and development of novel DNA-binding proteins for therapeutic gene regulation and modification. The most advanced ZFP Therapeutic(TM) development program is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials for evaluation of safety and clinical effect in patients with diabetic neuropathy. Phase 1 clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate a ZFP Therapeutic for peripheral artery disease. Other therapeutic development programs are focused on stem cell mobilization, ALS, cancer, HIV/AIDS, neuropathic pain, nerve regeneration, Parkinson's disease and monogenic diseases. Sangamo's core competencies enable the engineering of a class of DNA-binding proteins known as zinc finger DNA-binding proteins (ZFPs). By engineering ZFPs that recognize a specific DNA sequence Sangamo has created ZFP transcription factors (ZFP TF(TM)) that can control gene expression and, consequently, cell function. Sangamo is also developing sequence-specific ZFP Nucleases (ZFN(TM)) for gene modification. Sangamo has established strategic partnerships with companies outside of the human therapeutic space including Dow AgroSciences, Sigma-Aldrich Corporation and several companies applying its ZFP Technology to enhance the production of protein pharmaceuticals. For more information about Sangamo, visit the company's web site at http://www.sangamo.com.
This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on Dow AgroSciences LLC and Sangamo BioScience, Inc.'s current expectations. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, references to the achievement of additional milestones under the Research and Commercial License Agreement, the application of Sangamo's ZFP TFs and ZFNs in plant agriculture and the potential of Sangamo's ZFP technology to create new products in the marketplace. Actual results may differ materially from these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including technological challenges, the ability of Dow AgroSciences to develop commercially viable products and technological developments by our competitors. See Sangamo's SEC filings, and in particular, the risk factors described in the its Annual Report on Form 10-K and its most recent report on Form 10-Q. Dow AgroSciences and Sangamo BioSciences, Inc. assume no obligation to update the forward-looking information contained in this press release.
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SOURCE Sangamo BioSciences, Inc.