Chlorogen and Sigma-Aldrich Sign Joint Development Agreement to Produce First-Ever Products From Chloroplasts


Chlorogen, Inc. has signed a joint development and supply agreement with Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals, a division of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, which is expected to produce the first commercial products from chloroplast transformation technology (CTT). Sigma-Aldrich will fund an undisclosed portion of Chlorogen's efforts to produce four specific proteins in tobacco plants. The proteins will be sold to the reagent and cell culture markets and have pre-identified applications as active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Chloroplast transformation technology is a revolutionary new way of introducing genes into plants to produce beneficial proteins. Pharmaceutical proteins produced in plant cells provide safety and cost advantages over those produced from animal-derived cells. CTT should revolutionize plant-derived protein production by greatly increasing the protein output of plants and significantly lowering the cost of pharmaceutical production.

The current method of producing proteins in plants involves introducing a new gene into the cell nucleus. CTT, in contrast, introduces a new gene into the approximately100 chloroplasts within a plant cell. Each chloroplast contains about 100 copies of the plant's genetic structure. Therefore, chloroplast transformation can produce about 10,000 copies of the introduced gene per plant cell as opposedPto only one or two via nuclear transformation. There is also an environmental advantage, because chloroplasts, which are inherited maternally, are not functional in tobacco pollen and cannot be transferred to conventional tobacco via pollen.

This is the first time that Sigma-Aldrich has funded the generation and development of transformed plants for large-scale production of reagent proteins. Prior to this agreement, the Company's involvement in the transgenic plant market has focused on the purification of proteins from biomass on a contract manufacturing basis as well as acting as a sales and marketing outlet for novel proteins.

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