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Exclusive Worldwide Patent Portfolio
22nd Century owns or exclusively controls 112 patents in 78 countries where at least 75% of the world’s smokers reside – plus an additional 38 pending worldwide patent applications. In the U.S., the world’s most valuable smoking cessation market, the Company owns exclusive rights to 16 issued patents and 8 patent applications. In China, the world’s largest cigarette market, the Company owns exclusive rights to 6 issued patents and 3 patent applications.
Engineering the Nicotine Biosynthetic Pathway
Nicotine is produced in the roots of tobacco by the linking of compounds derived from nicotinic acid and putrescine. Nicotine is one of many nicotinic alkaloids in tobacco but is the most prevalent, making up 85-95% of the total of nicotinic alkaloids in typical commercial tobacco.
Our proprietary technology allows 22nd Century to regulate (decrease or increase) the biosynthesis of nicotinic alkaloids in plants through genetic engineering (Kajikawa et al. 2011; Todd et al. 2010). This enables us to regulate nicotine content in tobacco plants without adversely affecting other leaf compounds important to a tobacco product’s characteristics, including taste and aroma. For example, one of our proprietary tobacco varieties contains the lowest nicotine content of any tobacco ever commercialized, approximately 95% less nicotine than tobacco in leading “light” cigarette brands (Xie et al. 2004; Kajikawa et al. 2011; Morton et al. 2008).
Our technology also enables us to regulate the production of other nicotinic alkaloids in tobacco plants to produce tobacco with a wide range of specific desired alkaloid contents and alkaloid profiles (proportions of individual nicotinic alkaloids).