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Biotech / Medical : Plant Genomics Companies - Paradigm (PDGM) Agritope (AGTO)

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To: nigel bates who wrote (3)7/7/2000 4:57:35 AM
From: nigel bates  Read Replies (1) of 10
July 6, 2000--Agritope, Inc. (Nasdaq:AGTO - news) today announced that it has successfully developed a unique technology platform for the creation of novel plant varieties containing increased levels of naturally occurring phytochemicals, called nutraceuticals.
Nutraceuticals are nutrients in foods that may provide health benefits and prevent or treat diseases. Agritope's new MetaGene(TM) Metabolic Genomics Technology facilitates the rapid identification of the specific genes that regulate the levels of phytochemicals such as carotenoids, lycopene, flavonoids, isoflavones, vitamins, folic acid and various elements and minerals.
``The MetaGene platform brings together a blend of Agritope's proven activation tagging gene discovery technology and rapid, high resolution phytochemical discovery to capture a much sought after niche in medicinal plant biotechnology,'' said Adolph J. Ferro, president and chief executive officer. ``In the first months of this program, Agritope scientists have already used this technology platform to identify tomato lines with distinct properties. We plan to develop an extensive botanical library with robust databases to create a very powerful genomic resource.''
The MetaGene platform provides a direct link from these phytochemicals to the genes responsible for their production in a model plant, a dwarf tomato variety called Micro-Tom. Tomato was selected for this platform because it already possesses a wide array of phytochemicals at low levels, is extensively studied genetically, and is an excellent model for many other crops. Micro-Tom, originally developed at the University of Florida, is a true dwarf tomato and can be rapidly propagated at high density, thus making the generation of the botanical library extremely efficient.
``In recent years there has been an increased awareness by both the general public and the scientific community of the potential that natural compounds in plants may have in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The current global market for nutraceuticals is estimated at $65 billion and it is currently experiencing double-digit growth. As a result, many of the larger consumer products and pharmaceutical companies have become increasingly attracted to this growth potential,'' added Ferro.
Agritope has filed patent applications on the MetaGene technology, and has already produced a botanical library of more than 5,000 lines that the company is currently using for nutraceutical analyses. The company plans to generate over 200,000 lines over the next several years. In addition to screening for increased levels of nutraceuticals, the botanical library can be used to screen for new therapeutics, antimicrobial compounds, colorants and metabolites of interest to the cosmetic industry, as well as high-throughput screening for new drugs of interest to the pharmaceutical industry. This utility of the MetaGene program has great potential, as about 25% of all human therapeutic compounds are of plant origin.
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