Sigma ® Life Science and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories to Develop Silkworms for the Production of Spider Silk
Sigma's CompoZr ® ZFN technology expected to enable targeted insertion of spider silk genes and the removal of endogenous silkworm genes
St. Louis, MO. – April 12, 2011 – Sigma Life Science, the innovative biological products and services research business of Sigma-Aldrich ® (Nasdaq:SIAL), today announced the signing of an agreement with Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. (KBLB) to develop genetically modified silkworms for the production of spider silk, using Sigma's proprietary CompoZr Zinc Finger Nuclease (ZFN) technology. The transfer of silk genes from the spider to the silkworm is expected to allow the mass production of silk with enhanced strength and elasticity with potential textiles and biomedical applications, such as sutures, tendon and ligament repair, bulletproof vests, and automobile airbags.
Since the first published sequence of a spider silk gene in 1990, much research has focused on the production of commercially viable spider silk with high tensile strength and elasticity. In 2010 KBLB made an important advance towards this goal, by producing hybrid silkworms with randomly inserted spider silk genes, yielding hybrid spidersilkworm silk with greater strength and durability than native silkworm silk. The precise gene targeting and high efficiency of Sigma's ZFN technology allow s KBLB to build on its revolutionary proof of concept research, by concomitantly targeting the insertion of spider silk genes into the silkworm genome while removing endogenous silkworm silk genes. The resulting transgenic silkworm is expected to be capable of spinning pure spider silk at commercially viable production levels.
“ZFN technology has been revolutionary in genome engineering for various applications, including animal models of disease, engineering of biopharmaceutical production systems, academic research and therapeutics,” said Dr. Joseph Bedell, Director of Sigma Life Science's Commercial Animal Technologies Group. “Spider silk production is just the first example of a potential commercial animal application for this exciting technology, perfectly positioning Sigma Life Science as a leading provider of innovative technologies that are changing the face of science and improving the quality of life.”
Cautionary statement: The foregoing release contains forward-looking statements that can be identified by terminology such as “expected,” "allows," "potential," or similar expressions, or by expressed or implied discussions regarding potential future revenues from products derived there from. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements reflect the current views of management regarding future events, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. There can be no guarantee that CompoZr Zinc Finger Nuclease technology will assist the Company to achieve any particular levels of revenue in the future. In particular, management's expectations regarding products associated with CompoZr Zinc Finger Nuclease technology, including those related to silk production, could be affected by, among other things, unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; the Company's ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; competition in general; government, industry and general public pricing pressures; the impact that the foregoing factors could have on the values attributed to the Company's assets and liabilities as recorded in its consolidated balance sheet, and other risks and factors referred to in Sigma-Aldrich's current Form 10-K on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Sigma-Aldrich is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
About Sigma Life Science: Sigma Life Science is a Sigma-Aldrich business that represents the Company's leadership in innovative biological products and services for the global life science market and offers an array of biologically-rich products and reagents that researchers use in scientific investigation. Product areas include biomolecules, genomics and functional genomics, cells and cell-based assays, transgenics, protein assays, stem cell research, epigenetics and custom services/oligonucleotides. Sigma Life Science also provides an extensive range critical bioessentials like biochemicals, antibiotics, buffers, carbohydrates, enzymes, forensic tools, hematology and histology, nucleotides, amino acids and their derivatives, and cell culture media.
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See KBLB's related press release