INDIANAPOLIS and RICHMOND, Calif. -- Dow AgroSciences LLC and Sangamo BioSciences, Inc. today announced the successful completion of multiple research milestones as part of their Research and Commercial License Agreement initiated October 2005.

"We are delighted with the overall progress of the collaboration. The successful completion of these milestones demonstrates that Sangamo's ZFP Nuclease (ZFN(TM)) platform is proving to be as robust and powerful as expected, and we look forward to the successful achievement of additional milestones," said Dan Kittle, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development for Dow AgroSciences.

"Our recent work at Dow AgroSciences employing ZFNs in plant systems confirms our conviction that the ZFP platform has the potential to truly transform the field of plant genetics."

The three-year agreement provides Dow AgroSciences with access to Sangamo's proprietary zinc finger DNA-binding protein (ZFP) technology for the development of products in plants and plant cell cultures.

"Our ZFP technology can be used to both regulate and modify genes. Because ZFPs function at the DNA level, a molecule common to essentially every organism, our ZFP platform offers great versatility enabling us to address virtually any gene target in any species," said Philip Gregory, Sangamo's vice president of research. "Investments globally in plant genomics continue to uncover an increasing number of genes with the potential to substantially improve crop quality, expand crop uses and improve agronomic performance.

"All of these genes are potential targets for our ZFP technology, and it is therefore particularly exciting for all of us to have already achieved significant milestones validating the applications of our nuclease technology in plant agriculture," he said. "ZFNs provide the ability to make specific modifications to genes, to rapidly and reliably knock out specific genes and to insert genes reproducibly into specific target sites. Combined with the ZFP TF(TM) technology for the up or down-regulation of specific genes in plants, these capabilities hold the potential to revolutionize both the rate of development and the quality of plant products in applications in many different areas of plant agriculture."

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(TM) 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(TM) 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.

Dow AgroSciences LLC, based in Indianapolis, is a top-tier agricultural company providing innovative crop protection, seeds and biotechnology solutions to serve the world's growing population. A wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, global sales for Dow AgroSciences are $3.4 billion.

Sangamo BioSciences Inc. is focused on the research and development of novel DNA-binding proteins for therapeutic gene regulation and modification. A portion of Sangamo's research in plant agriculture is supported by an Advanced Technology Program (ATP) grant awarded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

SOURCE: Sangamo BioSciences Inc. via PR Newswire.