Calgene Inc. has obtained non-exclusive rights to a pendingpatent covering the use of antisense technology in plant cells.The patent application is based on technology developed byThe Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a non-profitresearch institution in Seattle that is supported by the NationalCancer Institute.
The Hutchinson Center has applied for a patent covering theuse of antisense in Eukaryotic cells, including plant, animal andyeast cells. Calgene of Davis, Calif., holds a current U.S. patentfor the use of antisense in plant cells, which it has licensed toPlant Genetic Sciences and Monsanto Co. Calgene spokeswomanCarolyn Hayworth said the company decided to avoid anycontroversy concerning the overlap of the two patents byreaching a licensing agreement before issuance of theHutchinson patent.
Calgene is currently involved in litigation with Enzo BiochemInc. of Farmingdale, N.Y., which holds another broad antisensepatent. Calgene claims that Enzo's patent is invalid and Enzo hascountersued, claiming infringement. The companies will meetin court in April, Hayworth said.
Calgene has only agreed to license rights of the Hutchinsonpatent applying to plant cells, Hayworth said. The company willpay royalties to The Hutchinson Center on any productsderived from antisense in plant cells, including its Flavr Savrtomato, which is genetically engineered to resist decay. Otherfinancial terms were not disclosed.
Antisense technology involves the use of a reverse sequence ofa specific gene to repress the expression of that gene.
Calgene's stock (NASDAQ:CGNE) closed at $11.88 a share onMonday, down 13 cents.
-- Karl A. Thiel Associate Editor
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