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Sangamo Hopes to Corner Zinc Finger Market with Acquisition of Gendaq

NEW YORK, May 31 - Sangamo Biosciences's acquisition of Gendaq will allow the company to corner the market on zinc finger protein technology as well as to stave off any potential patent disputes, company executives said Thursday.

"Gendaq really represents the one piece of scientific thinking that was not part of our family," Casey Case, Sangamo's vice president for research, told GenomeWeb. "It's great to have them in the fold."

Sangamo Biosciences said Wednesday it had obtained the option to acquire privately-held Gendaq in a stock-for-stock deal worth $39.7 million. The company is currently doing due diligence on Gendaq. 

Julianna Wood, senior director of corporate communications for Sangamo, also noted that since Sangamo was awarded a patent in the UK covering the application of ZFP technology to gene regulation, it made sense for the two companies to discuss merging their businesses as a way of avoiding lengthy and costly patent disputes.

Gendaq was developing a "complementary approach" to applying ZFP technology to gene regulation, said Case. 

While Case and Wood expressed enthusiasm for working with Yen Choo, a scientist at Gendaq who developed many of the early principles for engineering zinc finger proteins, Wood said it was too early to comment on the role Gendaq's scientists would play in the new organization.

"It's always good to get the premier thought leaders involved," Wood said, "but it's premature to talk about how the organization will be structured."

Separately, one of Sangamo's academic collaborators, Frank Giordano, a cardiologist at the Yale University School of Medicine, presented results at a conference in Seattle on Thursday showing that ZFP technology could up-regulate the expression of a gene associated with new blood vessel growth, Wood said. The demonstration, while only in a mouse model, could lead to therapeutic applications for ZFP technology in cardiovascular disease.

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