Photosynthetic Harvest Inc. Harnesses The Power Of Nature's Chemical Factories By "Milking" Green Plants For Valuable Natural Products

June 19, 1998

WILLINGBORO, N.J., June 22, 1998--Photosynthetic Harvest Inc. (PHI) has developed and begun implementing a unique process to discover and manufacture valuable natural products, including pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, biopesticides, preservatives, cosmetics, flavors, and fragrances, using the novel, cost-effective, and environmentally safe Rhizosecretion process. The Rhizosecretion process, developed at Rutgers University in the laboratory of Professor Ilya Raskin Ph.D., takes advantage of the ability of green plants, grown in water (hydroponically) in greenhouses, to synthesize and secrete large quantities of unique, bioactive compounds from their roots.

The ability of green plants to manufacture complex and valuable natural products is legendary, and mankind for much of recorded history has sought to harvest these products. Examples range from frankincense, myrrh, and opium, to modern day anti-cancer agents such as TaxolR. Green plants remain a vast, untapped resource for future discovery of new natural compounds, which have potential utility in multiple industries. However, many of these natural products have proven exceptionally expensive and difficult to produce synthetically, even with the most modern and sophisticated chemical techniques. Yet, large-scale collecting of plants from their natural environments, and subsequent extraction of compounds for commercialization, are often economically unfeasible and environmentally destructive. PHI has recently solved the riddle of how to produce large quantities of unique valuable compounds from nature's own chemical factories, literally "milking" plants via the Rhizosecretion process, which is economically and environmentally sound.

PHI's technology is based on a fundamental understanding of how and why plants produce such unique compounds. Unlike humans and animals, which have a variety of mechanisms available to protect themselves from both external and internal stresses, plants have only one major defense mechanism: chemistry. Over their evolutionary history, plants have developed extremely effective "biological warfare" capabilities for protection against stresses. Plants are most vulnerable in the "root zone", the area of the most intensive biological competition, where they are continually exposed to a plethora of potential invaders such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects, and other plant roots, as well as physical and environmental stresses. Each unique species of plant produces a wide range of novel compounds in response to different stimuli from each unique stress. With more than 250,000 plant species in the world, and with untold numbers of different stresses, or "elicitors", one can begin to appreciate the extent of the biological diversity within PHI's grasp.

This stimulation, or "elicitation" process, is a key component of PHI's proprietary technology. "It's biological mimicry at its finest," says Ira Pastor, PHI Director of Marketing. "For example, when we expose a series of plant species to a unique bacterial elicitor, the plants secrete a set of compounds that contain novel antibiotics, potentially effective against the drug-resistant bacterial strains that are currently emerging. When we expose a similar set of plants to a unique insect elicitor, the plants secrete a set of compounds containing novel biopesticides. Most importantly, these elicitors also evoke the secretion of a wide range of compounds with novel, unexpected activity, such as anti-cancer."

Several pharmaceutical and agribusiness firms have taken notice of PHI's technology, and have begun partnering with PHI to test its growing RhizEx compound library for a variety of applications.

"Companies understand the clear advantages of our process over older practices of natural product discovery," says Pastor. "Conventional methods of harvesting, drying and shipping plant parts from around the globe, followed by extensive chemical extraction, have major deficiencies when compared to the PHI process. One of these is the golden egg phenomenon. Although plants can synthesize large quantities of certain compounds, at any one time they may not contain high concentrations of those compounds. Just as one does not get the best yield of eggs by cutting open a goose, substantially greater yields of compounds can be achieved from live plants as opposed to dead ones. With PHI's technology, large yields of compounds are achieved, allowing customers to find unique leads, even when analyzing plant species they have previously studied using conventional extraction methods. A second advantage of the PHI technology has to do with the stability of the desired compounds. As plant parts are harvested, tissues begin to die, and destructive enzymes are released that break down the compounds that are present. The PHI process allows plants to secrete compounds outside the plant, away from such destructive enzymes. Finally, the PHI process is highly reproducible, compared to harvesting material from nature. Plants are grown in state of the art hydroponic greenhouses and stimulated with precisely controlled doses of unique elicitors."

PHI is a privately held biotechnology firm with headquarters located in Willingboro, N.J. PHI holds exclusive worldwide rights to proprietary Rhizosecretion technology.
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Photosynthetic Harvest Inc.

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