INDIANAPOLIS and RICHMOND, Calif., June 5 DowAgroSciences LLC and Sangamo BioSciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: SGMO) announced todaythe successful completion of research milestones as part of their jointResearch and Commercial License Agreement. These milestones represent thesuccessful 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 DowAgroSciences. "These milestones build on our earlier achievements anddemonstrate the versatility and broad applicability of the ZFP platform toboth regulate and modify genes in commercially important plant species. Wehave now proven that the ZFP technology can accelerate the process of 'traitstacking', which will result in a shorter path to commercialization of cropscontaining new traits. We believe ZFP technology has the power to trulytransform our industry."
Peribere points out that the technology also allows control of theexpression of existing genes. Many genes have already been identified in cropspecies that control the development of major traits relevant to agriculturesuch as seed quality, yield, and resistance to environmental stresses. Yetuntil now there has not been a technology that allows precise control of theactivity of these genes. ZFP technology provides such an approach and itsunique advantage, in addition to its efficiency, is its demonstratedflexibility. The technology can be used to regulate or modify any gene in anyspecies.
Scientists at Dow AgroSciences, in collaboration with Sangamo scientists,used ZFP Nucleases (ZFNs(TM)) to place a herbicide resistance gene into aspecified location of the maize genome in a rapid, single-step process. Theprecise insertion of the gene into the targeted location significantlyadvances the ability to stack a trait with other commercially valuable traitsand accelerate the breeding process to deliver a launch-ready variety. Thisachievement demonstrates the potential value and versatility of targetedtransgene insertion into crops.
Sangamo's ZFP transcription factor (ZFP TF(TM)) technology was used toachieve the second milestone, the control of the expression of a native genein canola, a major food oil crop species in North America and in Asia. The ZFPTF was engineered at Sangamo to enable scientists at Dow AgroSciences toregulate a gene involved in a key step of oil biosynthesis and to change themetabolic profile of plant tissue.
"It has been both exciting and gratifying to witness the successfulapplication of our ZFP technology in plants in collaboration with the DowAgroSciences team," said Edward Lanphier, Sangamo's president and chiefexecutive officer. "Dow AgroSciences has had the foresight to recognize thepower and potential of our technology and the expertise to rapidly implementit successfully into its precision trait development program in commerciallyrelevant crop species. They are leading the way in the development ofinnovative applications in plant biotechnology."
The three-year agreement initiated October 2005 provides Dow AgroScienceswith access to Sangamo's proprietary ZFP technology for the development ofproducts in plants and plant cell cultures. During the initial three-yearresearch term, Dow AgroSciences has the option to obtain a commercial licensethat will allow them to sell products incorporating or derived from plantcells generated using Sangamo's ZFP technology, including agricultural crops,industrial products and plant-derived biopharmaceuticals, and to grantsublicenses to other companies in the industry.
ZFPs are the dominant class of naturally occurring transcription factorsin organisms from yeast to humans. Transcription factors, which are found inthe nucleus of every