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2003 News

October 2003

New starch synthesis control gene from cereals

Christer Jansson and colleagues at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden have published in The Plant Cell in September 2003 their discovery of the SUSIBA genes from barley. Also present in other crop plants such as wheat and rice, SUSIBA is a key control element in starch synthesis. It is the first starch regulatory transcription factor to be described.

PBL is pleased to be managing the SUSIBA intellectual property on behalf of the inventors and the technology has already caused a good deal of interest among PBL's TEC Scheme members.

Enquiries to Jan Chojecki - .

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July 2003

PBL and EuroJapan annouce technology marketing alliance

PBL has engaged EuroJapan Marketing to bring PBL technology to the Japanese market. EuroJapan, headed by Chris Jackson, will work actively in Japan to identify customers for PBL's technology across the breadth of our portfolio in biological sciences. Then EuroJapan will act as a local point of contact for PBL's customers, licensees and technology development partners to ensure close attention to servicing these deals on an ongoing basis. "We are delighted to launch this new collaboration between PBL and EuroJapan," says PBL's Managing Director, Jan Chojecki, "EuroJapan has an excellent network of contacts in Japanese companies and will have a big impact on our capability to deliver to the Japanese market and build strong and enduring relationships there."

EuroJapan provides specialist services to companies entering the Japanese market and is particularly experienced in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and health care, and hence an excellent fit for PBL. EuroJapan has over 10 years of success in providing such services to companies entering the Japanese market, and draws on an experienced team of associates and consultants with deep technical understanding and corporate experience. Says EuroJapan's MD Chris Jackson, "Being based in Tokyo, and with a detailed knowledge of Japanese market and individual companies and on-going relationships with a wide range of senior contacts in Japanese technology-based businesses, EuroJapan is very well equipped to make a significant contribution to PBL's business here in Japan".

Please contact Jan Chojecki  or Chris Jackson  for further information.

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February 2003

Successful SciTech 2003

PBL sponsored the SciTech 2003 conference held at the JIC Conference Centre on 28th and 29th of January. The conference brought together over 200 seasoned technology entrepreneurs, investors, technology incubation specialists and business advisors from all over the UK, and was a tremendous success thanks to the top-class speaker list, lively debates and excellent networking opportunities. PBL also sponsored the SciTech Enterprise Award which, from a strong field, was won by Kecrypt Limited from Hertfordshire.

The SciTech event was excellently organised by YTKO and was also sponsored by the East of England Development Authority, Business Link, BT, The John Innes Centre, HSBC, Mills and Reeve, Eversheds, the BBSRC, ERBI, The Norwich BioIncubator, The Chartered Management Institute and Classic Fund Management.

Please contact Jan Chojecki  for further information.

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February 2003

Vitamin C: Nature Biotechnology online

The following research article has been published online in the 13 January 2003 issue of Nature Biotechnology: Engineering increased Vitamin C levels in plants by overexpression of a D-galacturonic acid reductase. Click here to view Abstract.

This technology, assigned to PBL from the Universidad de Malaga, Spain, is available for evaluation under PBL's Technology Evaluation Concept (TEC Scheme)

Please contact Jan Chojecki  for further information.

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January 2003

Worldwide License to Cancer-Fighting Broccoli Granted to Seminis

OXNARD, CALIF: January 29, 2003 -- Seminis Inc., the world's largest developer, grower and marketer of vegetable and fruit seeds, has secured exclusive marketing rights to broccoli containing as much as 80 times more potential cancer-fighting ability than standard broccoli. The broccoli was developed by Dr Richard Mithen in a traditional plant breeding program at the John Innes Centre (Norwich UK) and is licensed to Seminis by Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL), a UK-based technology management company.

Seminis said that the broad marketing agreement with PBL provides the exclusive right to transform the new basic broccoli lines into commercial products for the fresh produce, functional food and nutritional supplement markets, among others. In return, PBL will receive a royalty. Other details of the agreement remain confidential.

According to Seminis, company researchers are currently crossbreeding the broccoli plants having high levels of glucosinolates — a naturally occurring cancer-fighter — with commercial varieties adapted to important production areas. Since environmental and horticultural factors can affect the concentrations of glucosinolates in broccoli, Seminis is determining which growing conditions and production practices can optimize these levels.

"Taking full advantage of our genetic databank (germplasm) — the largest in the world — we have been able, through our own research capabilities and partnerships, to change the way vegetables are developed. In addition to our traditional focus on grower requirements, we have geared our research toward consumer needs and preferences; in this case, providing nutritious vegetables with enhanced health benefits," said Seminis President Eugenio Najera.

Dr Ed Green, senior vice president of research and development, noted: "We have the worldwide research and product development network to ensure that consumers around the globe can benefit from this breakthrough made by Dr Mithen’s research, and brought to us by PBL. By partnering with companies such as PBL that bring together technology from a wide network of public sector research, Seminis can cost-effectively combine its diverse plant breeding resources with a broad range of promising innovations."

Seminis invests about $45 million each year in R&D and maintains more than 100 collaborative agreements with public and private organisations. Globally, the company sells more than 4,000 varieties of vegetables and fruits, including 120 varieties of broccoli.

"Our agreement with a company with the development capability and global reach of Seminis allows us to maximize the commercial development of this research," said Jan Chojecki, PBL Managing Director. "This ensures academic breakthroughs become broadly available for public use and benefit. The royalties received will also allow us to invest in new innovations at the institutes and universities that provide intellectual property to us."

The nutritionally improved broccoli was developed through a traditional breeding process by Dr Richard Mithen and colleagues at the John Innes Centre. The research took more than 5 years to complete. PBL holds the rights to the new broccoli material.

Seminis believes that commercial products can be ready for widespread trialing in three to four years. Salvador Alanis, Seminis vice president of strategic support, said that the company has received requests and initiated discussions with potential downstream partners to bring these value-added products to market. "This health-enhancing broccoli is another example of how Seminis is growing value for the food industry, and we are pleased about the level of excitement it has generated. We are very interested in working with organisations that share our innovative spirit to make this breakthrough widely available for health-conscious consumers," he said.

According to nutrition experts, glucosinolates are not active in the body, but their breakdown products help detoxify carcinogens (cancer-causing toxins) and suppress the growth of existing cancerous tumors. In addition, research published last May in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that breakdown products of glucosinolate, abundant in some broccoli, thwart a bacteria associated with a gastritis, peptic ulcers and gastric cancer. Starting this March, a two-year university study on humans will shed more light on how glucosinolates and their breakdown products interact with the body.

Seminis (www.seminis.com) maintains a worldwide presence and global distribution network that spans 150 countries and territories. The company's products reduce the need for agricultural chemicals, increase crop yield, reduce spoilage, offer longer shelf life, offer better tasting foods and foods with better nutritional content.

Plant Bioscience Limited (www.pbltechnology.com), based in Norwich, UK is an independent technology and intellectual property 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.


Gary Koppenjan
Seminis, Inc
Tel: +(805) 647 1572
Email: media@seminis.com
Jan Chojecki
Plant Bioscience Limited
Tel: +44 (0)1603 456500
Email: ajsc@pbltechnology.com

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January 2003

EASTWARD Ho! for Biosciences

Financial Times, 23 January 2003: Norwich Research Park, one of Europe's biggest and most successful single-site concentrations of research and development in plants, microbes and food sciences, is hosting a conference next week to raise the profile of enterprise in Norwich, writes Marcus Gibson.

SciTech 2003 aims to promote a Norfolk cluster including such bioscience institutions as the University of East Anglia, the John Innes Centre, the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Institute of Food Research and Plant Bioscience, an independent technology management company.

Peter White, a technology marketing expert and member of the UK Industry and Parliament Trust, says: "Norfolk has some of the world's great bioscience assets but needs to commercialise its technology much more widely and build on its early successes."

Plant Bioscience, which commercialises plant and microbial discoveries by science institutions, last year generated income of £1.25m, says Jan Chojecki, chief executive.

In October six big research centres in the east of England started the £4m Iceni Seedcorn Fund with funding from the government and HSBC, to help them "turn good research into good business", says David Eastwood, vice-chancellor of UEA.

SciTech 2003 will also prepare for the Norfolk Network, an initiative along the lines of the Cambridge Network, bringing together entrepreneurs, capital and scientists, and promoting enterprise. www.scitech.com

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