Chinese and Australian Patents Allowed for 22nd Century’s NBB 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 State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China issued a Notice of Allowance and IP Australia issued a patent to the company for the NBB gene, a gene responsible for nicotine production in the tobacco plant.

International Patent Application PCT/IB2006/001741, from which the Chinese and Australian national-phase patents were derived, covers methods for producing tobacco plants with reduced nicotine levels and tobacco products produced therefrom. Besides nicotine, NBB is also responsible for the production of other nicotinic alkaloids, such as anatabine and anabasine.

The NBB gene encodes a protein involved in the final step of nicotine biosynthesis, “nicotine synthase,” which has eluded scientists for decades. This protein can either be down-regulated or up-regulated to produce tobacco varieties with a wide range of nicotine levels. Dr. Takashi Hashimoto of the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), a world-renowned plant molecular biologist, is an inventor of the NBB technology. 22nd Century funded research and development at NAIST from 2005 to 2009 and NAIST assigned various related patent families to 22nd Century in 2010, including the NBB technology. International Patent Application PCT/IB2006/004043 covers methods utilizing NBB for producing tobacco plants and products with increased nicotine levels.

The company’s vice president of research and development, Dr. Michael Moynihan stated, “The NBB gene technology is one of the keystones of 22nd Century’s intellectual property and represents our second-generation gene technology that has significant advantages over our earlier technology.” Specifically, the sole function of NBB is to produce nicotine and other nicotinic alkaloids.

22nd Century expects the NBB gene technology to play an important role in reducing the harm caused by smoking. The company announced on April 10, 2012 that it will file applications with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for two types of modified risk cigarettes in accordance with the FDA’s Modified Risk Tobacco Product Applications Draft Guidance. A presentation titled, Effect of Smoking Low Tar-to-Nicotine Ratio Cigarettes on Smoke Exposure, will be given by 22nd Century Group at the 66th Tobacco Science Research Conference being held in Concord, North Carolina on September 9-12. The presentation will summarize 22nd Century’s planned exposure study on one of its two modified-risk cigarette candidates.

22nd Century owns or is the exclusive licensee of 102 issued patents in 78 countries plus an additional 37 pending patent applications – mainly related to all of the key nicotine biosynthesis genes and the potential modified risk tobacco products produced therefrom. 22nd Century owns or is the exclusive licensee of 6 patents in China plus 2 pending patent applications and 5 patents in Australia. Additional patent applications will be filed by the company in both countries. China is the largest tobacco market in the world that consumes more than 2 trillion cigarettes per year.

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

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking information, including all statements that are not statements of historical fact regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of 22nd Century Group, Inc., its directors or its officers with respect to the contents of this press release. The words “may,” “would,” “will,” “expect,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “intend” and similar expressions and variations thereof are intended to identify forward-looking statements. We cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity or performance. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date that they were made. These cautionary statements should be considered with any written or oral forward-looking statements that we may issue in the future. Except as required by applicable law, including the securities laws of the United States, we do not intend to update any of the forward-looking statements to conform these statements to reflect actual results, later events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should carefully review and consider the various disclosures made by us in our annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011, filed on April 16, 2012, including the section entitled “Risk Factors,” and our other reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission which attempt to advise interested parties of the risks and factors that may affect our business, financial condition, results of operation and cash flows. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or if the underlying assumptions prove incorrect, our actual results may vary materially from those expected or projected.

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

Source: 22nd Century Group, Inc.