22nd Century Group Announces Allowance of U.S. Patent for MPO Nicotine Biosynthesis Gene

CLARENCE, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- 22nd Century Group, Inc. (OTCBB: XXII), a company that has developed groundbreaking technology for tobacco harm reduction and smoking cessation products, today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a Notice of Allowance for the N-methylputrescine oxidase (MPO) gene technology. MPO is essential for production of nicotine in the tobacco plant.

The allowed claims of Patent Application No. 12/305,483, entitled, NUCLEIC ACID ENCODING N-METHYLPUTRESCINE OXIDASE AND USES THEREOF, cover nucleic acids encoding MPO, methods for producing tobacco plants with either reduced or increased nicotine levels, and tobacco cells and tobacco plants produced by the foregoing. The Notice of Allowance was issued on December 24, 2012 to the National Research Council Canada (NRC). 22nd Century is NRC’s exclusive worldwide licensee of MPO and other technologies. A patent will be issued by the USPTO within the next few months. Including the patent term adjustment, this U.S. patent will expire in December 2027 and will be the first MPO gene patent issued anywhere in the world.

The MPO gene encodes a protein involved in a key step of nicotine biosynthesis. Scientists have attempted to clone the MPO gene for decades. MPO expression can be either down-regulated or up-regulated to produce tobacco plant varieties and tobacco products with a wide range of nicotine levels (from very low to high), or altered ratios of nicotine and other nicotinic alkaloids such as anatabine and nornicotine. Dr. Jonathon Page and Enwu Liu of the NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute are the inventors of the MPO technology. 22nd Century funded subject patent and research and development expenses at NRC from 2006 to 2008. Patent Application PCT/IB2007/003550 is the related international application to U.S. Patent Application No. 12/305,483.

22nd Century’s vice president of research and development, Dr. Michael Moynihan stated, “We are very pleased that the USPTO has allowed the MPO patent. The MPO gene technology is one of several 22nd Century patent families representing our second-generation gene technology for modifying the content of nicotine and other nicotinic alkaloids in the tobacco plant. Our second-generation technology has significant advantages over our first generation technology.”

Upon this MPO patent issuing, 22nd Century will have a portfolio of 15 issued U.S. patents and 8 pending U.S. patent applications. Globally, 22nd Century owns or is the exclusive licensee of 107 issued patents in 78 countries plus an additional 38 pending patent applications – mainly related to all of the key nicotine biosynthesis genes and potential modified risk tobacco products produced therefrom.

For additional information, please visit: www.xxiicentury.com.

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Redington, Inc.
Tom Redington, 203-222-7399

Source: 22nd Century Group, Inc.