22nd Century Group has reached an agreement to extend and expand its plant research partnership agreement with KeyGene, a global leader in plant research involving high-value genetic traits and increased crop yields. The new partnership agreement extends the length of the exclusive worldwide collaboration 22nd Century has with KeyGene to develop new, disruptive hemp/cannabis plants and intellectual property for the life science, medicinal, and pharmaceutical end-use markets. It also expands the partnership to include research and development activity for non-combustible, alternative tobacco plant applications, such as protein production, and 22nd Century’s third plant franchise, plus it establishes a new governance structure and working model to accelerate development timelines across all three crop/trait programs.
“We have a highly successful relationship with KeyGene, and we are excited to announce this expansion of our partnership that we have been referring to recently,” said James A. Mish, chief executive officer of 22nd Century Group. “Our KeyGene partnership has proven to be crucial for 22nd Century’s growth and success in the hemp/cannabis space. Since launching our collaboration in 2019, we have achieved much together, including a breakthrough in molecular breeding that will significantly reduce the time needed to develop new hemp/cannabis plant lines with commercially valuable traits. We are pleased to extend our exclusive, global hemp/cannabis research agreement with KeyGene and expand our partnership with KeyGene’s world-class team of plant scientists, geneticists, molecular biologists, and bioinformaticians to achieve the same levels of success with biotechnology applications for plant-based protein production as well as our yet-to-be-announced third plant franchise.“
“Our partnership with 22nd Century Group has been mutually beneficial, as we have worked together to make game-changing discoveries in hemp/cannabis genetic research,” said Walter Nelson, chief executive officer of KeyGene USA. “This expanded partnership fits well into KeyGene’s push into integrating metabolomics and proteomics with our capabilities in genomics using innovative informatics tools. I am excited to build on this successful relationship and look forward to what we will be able to accomplish in other crops using our technology innovation platforms.”
Through this expanded partnership, 22nd Century has access to KeyGene’s unique suite of crop innovation platforms, including genomics, molecular breeding, trait discovery, and metabolomics technologies.
“We have worked with KeyGene to develop platforms and tools that have allowed us to identify plant lines with unique profiles of various major cannabinoids in hemp/cannabis plants. We also found that these strains have minor cannabinoids that may have potential medicinal applications. This expanded partnership will give us the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize these unique cannabinoids traits,” said Juan Sanchez Tamburrino, vice president of research and development at 22nd Century Group.
The renewed partnership will help to accelerate the development of new plant lines across 22nd Century’s three franchises by enhancing the working process between the two organizations. 22nd Century and KeyGene will form an executive steering committee to establish and refine targeted traits, technologies, intellectual property, and other deliverables and ensure collaboration achieves its objectives and timelines. With the extended and expanded partnership with KeyGene, 22nd Century has secured and enhanced four of the five key partnerships needed in the upstream segments of the cannabinoid value chain. Combining the Company’s core strength in plant science and its network of operational partnerships will enable 22nd Century to drive differentiation and value by delivering new valuable plant lines and IP in two years. The Company will tailor its solutions for the hemp/cannabis industry to the unique needs of its customers and consumers across a wide range of end-use markets, including the life science, consumer product, and pharmaceutical industries.