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2002 News

November 2002

PBL launches Technology Evaluation Concept

PBL is pleased to announce the launch (on November 1st) of the PBL Technology Evaluation Concept or “TEC” scheme.

PBL is constantly taking on exciting new technologies from research institutions and universities all around the world and we believe the TEC scheme will get these technologies into the hands of our commercial development partners and licence customers more quickly and easily than ever before.

The TEC will dramatically reduce the early obstacles of paperwork and upfront payments so that customers can “try before they buy” and carry out their own first hand technical assessment, as well as getting a head start on parties who do not join the TEC scheme.

As we now handle such a diverse range of technology covering biosciences of use in many industrial sectors as well as, but beyond, plants and agriculture, we are establishing two separate TECs:

Plant-TEC - will contain plant and agricultural sciences, and 
Bio-TEC - will address non-plant based science, such as microbial and biomedical sciences.

We do from time to time take on technologies that are of a very general biotechnological utility and these will be offered under both TECs.

Further details of all the benefits of subscribing to the PBL TEC scheme can be found here, as well as lists of PBL Technologies that will be available to TEC subscribers.

To discuss subscribing to the TEC, please contact Jan Chojecki.

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October 2002

The London String of Pearls Golden Jubilee Festival

PBL was recently invited to an exhibition showcasing the UK's outstanding record in innovation, research and development (R&D) and technology transfer. As part of the London String of Pearls Golden Jubilee Festival programme, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office opened its doors and hosted the Science Business exhibition on 15 October. This provided a perfect opportunity for PBL to network with people at the forefront of R&D and technology transfer, and to discuss science and technology with leading figures from academia and business.

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July 2002

PBL Attends the 9th GIM in Gyeongju, Korea

PBL recently exhibited at the 9th International Symposium on the Genetics of Industrial Microorganisms (Gyeongju, Korea). Iain Thomas and Karin Schofield attended the conference that covers the industrial exploitation of microbial organisms and developments in this rapidly changing field. PBL took the opportunity to promote its rapidly expanding portfolio of microbial technologies. Many of the inventors of PBL's technologies also attended the meeting and presented their work in lectures and posters that gave great publicity to their research and PBL's offerings. A particular highlight was Prof Keith Chater's lecture that highlighted REDIRECT - PBL's technology for rapid efficient direct recombination in Streptomyces.

The conference is of particular value to PBL because of the companies growing activity in microbial biotechnology and the opportunity to make more contacts with academics and potential client companies.

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July 2002

PBL in Florida

PBL recently exhibited at the 10th IAPTC&B Congress, "Plant Biotechnology 2002 and Beyond" in Orlando, Florida. Alastair Hick and Rupert Osborn attended the Congress covering new developments in plant biotechnology, plant tissue culture and molecular farming. Particularly well received were plenary lectures given by PBL inventors Professor Jonathan Jones on plant disease resistance and Professor David Baulcombe on mechanisms and applications of gene silencing.

This event was particularly applicable to PBL's activities as it focussed on the current and future applications of plant biotechnology and how these may be applied to improve crops of harvest novel products from plants. There was a high turnout from members of industry and PBL were able to establish many more good links into potential partner companies.

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May 2002

Academic MTAs

The international academic research network thrives through exchanges of research materials between scientists in collaborating laboratories around the world. PBL actively encourages and facilitates such exchanges in respect of all the technologies managed by PBL. Whenever a request to exchange materials is received we will endeavour to put in place a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) with the recipient insititution, to cover the transfer and use of the requested materials. In the past year PBL has completed over 220 such agreements with academic labs from all over the world, allowing their researchers access to the unique range of technologies managed by PBL and increasing the knowledge base associated with these technologies.

In the past 12 months we have implemented:
  • 29 MTA's with 17 different UK academic research institutions
  • 49 MTA's with US research institutions
  • over 150 MTA's with researchers in 29 other countries

The most requested technology this year was the TRV gene silencing vector for use in plant functional genomics. Other technologies in this area that were also popular included the Amplicon gene silencing system and Suppressors of gene silencing, together with the related Transient expression system.

PBL's successful expansion into microbial sciences has led to acquisition of our second most requested technology, the ReDirect system for targeted recombination in actinomycetes including Streptomyces species. This is now being used in almost 40 academic laboratories around the world only a year after its creation.

If you want further information on accessing these or other PBL technologies for academic research then please contact us with details of your request.

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April 2002

Another successful year of technology transfer at PBL

The end of March marks the end of PBL's business year and we are pleased to report another successful year managing intellectual property on behalf of academic researchers around the world. This year has seen record turnover on our licensing and technology transfer activity, and as a result the company has returned a profit despite increasing its investment in patents under management. As well as continuing to bring forward technologies of interest to our existing customers, we have been pleased to secure business with several new development partners and technology customers, such as Large Scale Biology Corporation (Vacaville, CA).

During the year to March we have adopted technologies in both plant and microbial science from many different research organisations. As well as locally from the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, we have obtained four exciting new technologies from Universities and Institutes elsewhere in the UK, and several more from Spain, Sweden, Brazil and USA. New priority patent filings have been filed on 14 new inventions, and we will begin marketing these in the coming year.

These new additions to PBL's portfolio of bioscience technology will keep our marketing and licensing teams busy in the coming months but we are always keen to hear of potential new developments and inventions that we may be able to help commercialise.

Early warning: PBL is shortly planning to launch an extension to its technology transfer services, to encompass advice and tailored support for new venture formation. This new service, which will be known as PBL Ventures will offer a range of services essential in the conception, design, planning, financing and establishment of new technology-based companies.

For further information please contact Jan Chojecki.

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April 2002

TRV VIGS Vector Patent Granted

The USPTO has recently granted a broad US patent (No. 6,369,296) to PBL covering work by Professor David Baulcombe and colleagues at the Sainsbury Laboratory for tobacco rattle virus (TRV) vectors and their use for virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of host sequences in all plants. VIGS is a rapid and highly effective tool for functional genomics in plants and the TRV vectors, which have been developed by the Sainsbury Laboratory, mediate high efficiency VIGS of endogenous genes in the absence of virus-induced symptoms. The TRV vectors are also able to target host RNAs in the growing points of plants. These features mean that the TRV vectors will have wide applications for gene discovery in plants.

For further information, please contact Jan Chojecki.

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April 2002

Food and Nutritional Science

PBL welcomes its newest appointee, Nicola Stockman, who joined the team on April 2nd in a newly created post on secondment to PBL from the Institute of Food Research, Norwich. As Technology Acquisition and Licensing Manager for Food and Nutritional sciences, Nicola will enable PBL to broaden the IP management and technology transfer services that it already provides to the IFR. The post is supported under a grant from the UK government under the Department of Trade and Industry "Capacity Building" Scheme.

Nicola joins us from Masterfoods in King's Lynn (a division of Mars UK) and has formerly worked for four years at GlaxoSmithKline in the drinks division (Ribena, Horlicks, Lucozade). Her first degree was in Chemistry at University of Bath (1st class honours, 1994) and she recently completed a postgraduate diploma in nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey.

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January 2002

Broccoli Patent Granted

The USPTO has recently granted a US patent (No. 6,340,784) covering work of Dr Richard Mithen and colleagues carried out at the John Innes Centre for the breeding of brassica vegetables containing high levels of anti-cancer compounds. These compounds, termed glucosinolates, give brassica vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts) their characteristic taste. Glucosinolates have numerous biological properties, including protecting plants against a range of pests and diseases, with certain glucosinolates also having been shown to have anti cancer properties. Selective breeding using conventional methods, with wild brassicas found on the Mediterranean coast crossed to traditional brassica breeding varieties, has enabled the development of broccoli with specifically high levels of the anti cancer glucosinolates. These are now being used to develop commercial broccoli varieties with enhanced levels of these beneficial compounds in a collaborative programme with a major international seed company.

For further information please contact Jan Chojecki.

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January 2002

CropDesign and PBL in Licence Agreement

Licensed Technology Targets Protein Production in Plants

Gent, Belgium/Norwich, UK, 10 January 2002 – CropDesign N.V. (CropDesign) and Plant Bioscience Ltd (PBL) announced today that they have signed a broad licence agreement concerning the PBL's AMPLICON, AMPLICON-PLUS, and related technologies for application in protein over-expression in plants.  Under the terms of the agreement, CropDesign has exclusive worldwide rights to AMPLICON and AMPLICON-PLUS for the production of industrial-type enzymes and proteins in plants.  In addition, CropDesign is granted non-exclusive rights to the technologies in the area of production of pharmaceutical products in plants.

AMPLICON is a gene silencing technology developed at the Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich, UK) by Professor David Baulcombe. AMPLICON-PLUS, developed by Professor Vicki Vance and colleagues at the University of South Carolina, is a method for achieving hyper-expression of transgenes in plants.  The result of combining both these technologies is extremely high and uniform levels of transgene over-expression.

According to Dr Herman Van Mellaert, CropDesign CEO, "With the licence on AMPLICON and AMPLICON-PLUS we are now well positioned to gain additional leverage from the TraitMill in this new business area.  This technology will enable us to rapidly and effectively develop rice lines producing large amounts of recombinant proteins for our partners."  CropDesign's core technology platform is the rice TraitMill, an integrated high-throughput system for gene cloning, plant transformation and plant evaluation.  TraitMill is designed to deliver improved agronomic traits directly in cereal crops.  Van Mellaert added, "Not only is rice a key target for agronomic improvement, it is also ideally suited for cost-effective and environmentally safe molecular farming.  The market requires such effective production tools to bring new biotech-based proteins and drugs to market."

Dr Jan Chojecki, Managing Director of PBL, commented that, "We are very pleased to have had this further endorsement for our technology by CropDesign.  We fully expect that AMPLICON and AMPLICON-PLUS will prove to be of considerable value to their product development programs.  Novel gene expression technologies are critical for production of new generations of enzymes and other proteins".

CropDesign, based in Gent, Belgium is an agbiotech company focussed on the application of functional genomics for improved crop performance, including higher yield, heightened tolerance to stress and diseases and better quality.  The company also applies its technology in other business areas, including molecular farming.  CropDesign applies its technology in rice, wheat and other cereals. Founded in 1998, CropDesign employs over 65 people at its research facilities in Gent.

PBL, based in Norwich, UK is an independent technology management company specializing in plant and microbial sciences.  The company manages and commercializes research conducted by leading plant and microbial science laboratories around the world.

For further information please contact:

Herman Van Mellaert, CEO
Crop Design NV
Tel: +32 9 241 50 80
Fax: +32 9 241 50 89
Email: Cropdesign@cropdesign.com
Dr Jan Chojecki
Plant Bioscience Limited
Tel: +44 (0)1603 456500
Fax: +44 (0)1603 456552
Email: ajsc@pbltechnology.com

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