Focus is the University of Haifa's English-language newspaper covering news and features about Israel's
"University of the North" Published 3-4 times a year, by the division of public affairs and Resource Development.

 

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WINTER 2004-2005

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University Obtains Its First Biotech Patent in the U.S.
 

            

The University, through its commercial arm, Carmel-Haifa University Economic Corp. Ltd., has obtained its first patent in the United States.   The U.S. patent office issued the patent on October 19, 2004, for an innovative method of genetic transformation in crop plants that was conceived and developed at the University's Institute of Evolution, the university's biotech research center. Institute researchers have gained U.S. patents in the past, but awarded them to private firms.  This is the first assigned to the University itself.

The genetic-transformation invention protected by the patent was developed by Prof. Abraham Korol, Assoc. Prof.  Tzion Fahima, and Prof. Eviatar Nevo, the Institute’s director. Genetic transformation is one of the central instruments for researching basic processes in plant biology and breeding transgenic varieties.  Transgenic plants are generated by adding foreign genes into their characteristic set of genes, or genome, thereby providing the modified crops with novel and enhanced properties.

The method developed by the Institute scientists exploits natural pollination pathways to deliver genes into the embryo sac by using pollen grains as a natural vector, or vehicle capable of transporting the transforming DNA and maintaining it inside the sac.  This process results in the generation of a transgenic embryo, a seed, which eventually develops into a transgenic plant.

The major advantage of this method over currently existing technologies, according to the developers, is its ability to transfer genes into any variety of plant, independent of its genetic background and/or regeneration ability.

The ability to transfer new genes into commercially elite varieties—those with a high yield—opens unlimited possibilities for the improvement of economically important crops.  These improvements include enhancement of the nutritional value of the fruit or vegetable and strengthening the plant’s resistance to ecological stresses, diseases, and pests.  The main crop beneficiaries of the method have so far been corn, melons, and tomatoes.

The Carmel-Haifa University Economic Corp. is currently exploring the possibility of establishing a start-up company in order to commercialize the patented technology.

 

In This Issue:

President’s Focus
Continuity, Change, and Social Responsibility

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, a Former Negotiator, Reflects on Israel-Jordan Relations
at a Conference Here Marking a Decade of a Formal Peace
Former Jordanian Minister and Negotiator Heads Delegation from Jordan Here

Unique ‘Open Apartment’ Project Benefits Community and Students

Researcher Develops Computerized Handwriting Evaluation System

Prof. Yossi Ben-Artzi Named Rector of the University

Prof. David Faraggi—Deputy Rector

What If a Tsunami Hit? First Program of Its Kind in Israel Dealing with Mass Disaster

Eskesta Success Continues

Student Builds Internet Site of Never-Recorded Israeli Army Songs

University Campus Gradually Becoming Wireless

Honors and Appointments

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