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LSBC and Icon Identify 200 Genes for Stable Transfer into Tobacco Plants

NEW YORK, April 18 - Large Scale Biology and Icon Genetics announced Wednesday that they have identified almost 200 genes associated with preferred crop characteristics for stable introduction into tobacco plant varieties as part of a joint research program.

LSBC had identified the genes with its Geneware functional genomics technology, and the two companies now plan to introduce the genes into tobacco plants using Icon's Transgene Operating System technology for stable gene transfer and high-throughput gene testing.

LSBC hopes to sell the findings from tobacco, a model organism, to agricultural breeding companies for use in other commercial crops.

Currently, LSBC uses viral delivery to express genes in plants, whereas Icon has obtained the patents and developed the technology to perform stable nuclear transformation of genes into plants, a necessary step for additional screening and analysis, said Newell Bascomb, president of Icon.

"They do the first level cut on genomics, we do the next screening step," said Bascomb.

Guy della-Cioppa, vice president of genomics, at LSBC announced the results at an international conference titled "Global Agriculture 2020: Which Way Forward?" which is currently being held in Norwich, UK.

In a statement, della-Cioppa said that LSBC's Geneware functional genomics technology rapidly determines the function of completely uncharacterized gene sequences via high-throughput robotic cloning and transfection of mature plants.

Icon is also currently developing techniques to express medically-relevant proteins in plants, including monoclonal antibodies, he said.