A new agreement allows Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences to have access to Sangamo BioSciences proprietary zinc finger DNA-binding protein technology for use in plants and plant cell cultures.
The ZFP technology is used to develop products in areas including, on an exclusive basis, plant agriculture and industrial products, and, on a non-exclusive basis, animal health and biopharmaceutical products produced in plants.
Dan Kittle, vice president, Research and Development for Dow AgroSciences, says he believes Sangamo's ZFP technology will provide Dow a competitive advantage in the industry. "We also look forward to working with the public research sector and other companies to fully develop and apply this technology to plant crop improvement," he adds.
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 TFs that can control gene expression and consequently, cell function. For example, Sangamo has demonstrated that plant oils can be improved using ZFP TFs.
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. According to a 2004 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications report, transgenic traits were planted on an estimated 200 million acres, or 29% of the global acres for soybean, cotton, maize, and canola. Phillips McDougall, international crop protection and agricultural biotechnology consultants, estimates the value of agricultural biotechnology in these crops for 2004 to be $4.7 billion. Both the acreage and the value of agricultural biotechnology are expected to grow.
This increasing demand could be addressed by the use of Sangamo's ZFN and ZFP technologies for combinations or stacks of multiple traits and new traits. Investments globally in genomics are also revealing large numbers of genes with the potential to substantially improve crop quality, expand crop uses and improve agronomic performance.