Agritope, Inc. (Nasdaq:AGTO), which recently announced an agreement to merge with Exelixis, Inc. (Nasdaq:Exel), and ROHM and Haas Company (NYSE:ROH) today announced that they have entered into a technology development and marketing agreement to create a new plant transformation marker selection system for use in agricultural biotechnology.
When fully developed, the Agritope-Rohm and Haas transformation system will permit the rapid creation of improved plant varieties with traits valuable to both growers and consumers.
With this new transformation marker system, only transformed plants will produce an easily detected, naturally occurring plant compound that will enable the extremely efficient identification of transformed plants in the laboratory. This improved method will not use antibiotic or herbicide resistance in the selection process. An added benefit of this system is that the marker components will be rapidly eliminated from the plant via conventional plant breeding, facilitating the production of transgenic plants that contain only DNA of plant or synthetic origin.
This agreement brings together Rohm and Haas’ ligand-inducible gene expression technology and Agritope’s proprietary visual marker gene. Rohm and Haas is contributing synthetic ecdysone receptors and proprietary ligand inducer chemistry that precisely regulates gene expression. Combining this technology with Agritope’s visual marker gene of plant origin and expertise in plant transformation and regeneration is expected to result in a new transformation marker system that can be used in a wide variety of crops.
“Agritope evaluated a variety of potential inducible gene expression technologies and concluded that the Rohm and Haas system is superior,” said Adolph J. Ferro, president and chief executive officer of Agritope. “We are enthusiastic about having an opportunity to work with a well-respected corporation of the caliber of Rohm and Haas.”
“Rohm and Haas has conducted pioneering research on ligand chemistry and receptor biology for over fifteen years,” noted Thomas Tillett, Rohm and Haas Biotechnology Business Manager. “Our ligand-inducible gene expression system provides tightly regulated, highly inducible gene expression under the control of safe and effective ligand inducers. We are looking forward to partnering with Agritope to develop this important enabling technology for the agricultural biotechnology industry.”
The agreement provides that the research program will be conducted at both Agritope and Rohm and Haas facilities. Rohm and Haas will manufacture the ligand and market the transformation marker system. Royalties will be shared equally by both parties.
In July 1999, Rohm and Haas announced its first partnership in gene regulation with the formation of RHeoGene LLC, a joint venture with Argonex, Inc (Charlottesville, Va.). RHeoGene is developing technology for the controlled expression of genes for use in cell-based assays for drug discovery and in human gene therapy.
Rohm and Haas is a specialty chemical company whose products consistently improve the quality of life for people around the world. Rohm and Haas technology is found in paintings and coatings, adhesives and sealants, household products, personal computers and electronic components, and construction materials. It also brings food to the table-fruits and vegetables-and salt, an essential ingredient for life. Rohm and Haas has annual sales of approximately $7 billion and employs more than 21,000 people. The company operates approximately 150 manufacturing and research sites in 25 countries around the world.
Agritope is an Oregon-based agricultural functional genomics and biotechnology company that develops improved plant products and provides technology to the agricultural industry. Its fruit and vegetable division specializes in the development of improved fruit, vegetable and flower varieties. Agrinomics LLC, its 50% owned joint venture with Aventis CropScience (NYSE:AVE), conducts a research, development and commercialization program in the field of plant functional genomics. Vinifera, Inc., its majority owned subsidiary, offers superior grapevine plants to the premium wine industry. On September 6, 2000, Agritope entered into an agreement to be acquired by Exelixis, Inc. (Nasdaq:EXEL) in a stock-for-stock transaction.
Certain statements in this release constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements that expressly or by implication predict future results, performance or events are forward-looking. The words “believes,” “intends,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” and similar expressions often identify forward looking-statements. The forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company or industry results to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. With respect to Agritope, these factors include its limited independent operating history; uncertainty of additional funding; loss or impairment of sources of capital; dependence on strategic partners; uncertainties relating to patents and proprietary information; dependence on key personnel; technological change and competition; uncertainties as to consumer acceptance of genetically engineered products; changes in laws or regulations; as well as the other factors discussed in Exhibit 99 to the Company’s 1999 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Given these uncertainties, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements. Agritope does not intend to update any forward-looking statements.