22nd Century Group has been granted a new U.S. patent related to the reduction of nicotine in the tobacco plant. The new technology provides 22nd Century with a rapid pathway to introduce very low nicotine traits into virtually any variety of tobacco, including bright, burley, oriental, and cigar tobacco varieties.
“We are very pleased to receive this patent which reflects the ingenuity and expertise of our talented scientific team,” said James A. Mish, chief executive officer of 22nd Century Group in a statement. “This new technology allows us to reduce nicotine in any tobacco variety.
“Importantly, this breakthrough further demonstrates that the FDA’s comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation to limit the nicotine content of all cigarettes sold in the United States is technically feasible and at the same time refutes the claim from Big Tobacco that such low nicotine levels cannot be achieved in multiple tobacco varieties,” he added.
“I am proud of the significant R&D gains we continue to make as we work to achieve our mission to reduce the harm caused by smoking and seek to significantly disrupt the $100 billion U.S. and the $800 billion global tobacco industries with our proprietary reduced nicotine tobacco products.”
The new patent and allowed claims, published as U.S. Patent No. 10,669,552 and entitled “Up-regulation of auxin response factor NbTF7 to decrease nicotine in a plant,” cover methods of manipulating plant metabolism and alkaloid levels by controlling transcription factor NbTF7, which regulates the nicotinic alkaloid biosynthetic pathway. The patent enables the company’s use of next-generation gene modification technologies that afford greater flexibility for genetic control over nicotine levels in virtually any variety of the tobacco plant.
22nd Century is preparing for the launch of VLN, its proprietary reduced nicotine content tobacco cigarettes containing 95 percent less nicotine than conventional counterparts. Pending the FDA’s authorization of the company’s Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) application, VLN would be the first and only combustible cigarette to receive a MRTP designation, according to 22nd Century.