Directed Selection™ is a proprietary technology designed to use the unique conditions of near-zero gravity in low earth orbit to create plants with beneficial traits of great value to humanity. The Company is using this proprietary new platform technology to create more robust plant varieties adapted toward desirable characteristics. This technology represents a pioneering method to solve some of the critical problems facing world agriculture.
Scientific Basis of Stem Cell Technology
Life on Earth has always and only developed within the confines of 1G. About 50% of the energy expended by terrestrial-bound plants is dedicated to structural support, in order to overcome gravity. By removing gravity from the equation, plant cells in a weightless environment have an excess of energy causing the plant to activate its survival mechanisms. These include uninhibited and excessive gene expression. With normally dormant genes within the cell now expressing, the plant is able to adapt quickly to a changing environment or disease-causing organism, stresses that we introduce artificially while the plant is in microgravity. This means that we can produce new varieties of plants, with commercially beneficial attributes an order of magnitude faster than traditional methods. Our technology therefore allows us to claim that we can create new patentable varieties of stem cells and plants substantially more quickly and efficiently than on Earth. It will also allow us to produce large quantities of undifferentiated cells in the same environment for commercial sale to third parties.
Directed Selection™ - Platform Technology for Stem Cell Development
ZGSI's IP, derived from six research flights aboard the International Space Station (ISS), predicts that plant and animal stem cells exposed to prolonged microgravity in space can be endowed with new characteristics of great benefit to mankind. This Directed Selection technology was conceived by co-founder of ZGSI, John W. Kennedy, as a means to harness the natural genetic capacity present in the genome of the plant. Like all living things, plants include in their DNA a host of stress and immune responses, developed over the evolutionary history of the plant species. The stress response systems of plants include a native immune system, response to cold, drought or degrees of osmoprotection (salt-tolerance). Directed Selection uses the natural adaptation capacity of the plant, “activated” by microgravity in space, to direct plants toward valuable attributes, and the beneficial traits in the plant are achieved without Genetic Modification.
The Company possesses patents pending that contain claims covering biological processes in microgravity, including the growth of cellular plant and animal tissues in orbit, the 3-Dimensional growth of biologics on-orbit, the enhanced gene expression of biologics in extended microgravity, stem cell replication and related processes. A key part of our ongoing operations is the expansion of these patents to cover additional crops, animals and humans, and the specific methods and tools that are developed from our R&D.
The technologies being developed and patented with our collaborative partners and licensed by the Company comprise a proprietary new platform technology, which can provide exclusive and non-exclusive patented stem cells in large quantities to companies around the world, offering an unprecedented competitive market advantage. We will offer our potential corporate partners technology, access to space, consulting services using our expertise and strategic partners and on-orbit production of proprietary plants and stem cells. This enables us to lead this important new area of biotechnology and agricultural science.
We are actively moving forward with plans for new, patentable varieties such as frost and disease resistant citrus fruit trees, rice that can grow in brackish water and corn that grows with less irrigation. Future possibilities pertaining to space acquired improvements in commercial crops include bananas, papaya, fruits, wheat, and many more. The potential for space acquired improvements across a broad spectrum of commercial products is extensive.
It is important to state that our new varieties are not genetically modified with foreign genes. Our technology only directs expression of the genes that already exist, but that are dormant within the plant’s genome. Thus, our new, patentable varieties are not subject to the same common and often negative misconceptions concerning Genetic Modification (GM). We have merely accelerated genetic improvement; something that mankind has done for over 15,000 years, albeit slowly, up until now.
The ability to produce new varieties of crops addressing major challenges can be a very large business. The present system of depending on Genetically Modified crops has for example lowered USA shipments of our major crops to most countries, because many countries will not accept Genetically Modified grains and other orchard crops from the USA.
Stressing or “Directing” Gene Expression of Candidate Stem Cells
ZGSI selected Tropical Research and Education Center (“TREC”) of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (“IFAS”) at the University of Florida, Homestead to conduct the first space experiments in order to validate the efficacy of ZGSI’s technology in space. In this partnership with the University of Florida and a sponsoring commercial corporation, we have been able to prove our hypothesis of differential gene expression by flying the Jatropha stem cells in space on the Space Shuttle to the ISS. We have been able to stress the cell in space and preliminary results indicate it will have the capability of frost resistance for example and allowing the plant to be cultivated in areas that are potentially highly advantageous and profitable (like Florida).
In the case of Jatropha for bio-fuels, lands currently “scrub land”, in the West Texas oil fields, could become highly cultivated areas producing just short of 3 tons of oil, per hectare sown, five years after planting. The commercial partner on the Jatropha experiment has financed much of the cost of our space flights, proven the viability of our technology, and allowed us the proof of principle to now pursue hundreds of other species and agricultural and mammalian benefits by the use of our IP and the tools being developed by this first in space experimentation.
Additionally, our plans include patenting multiple technologies for improving the way plants and animals grow on earth. One experiment in space can yield knowledge, know-how and patents that can be used on earth for decades.
Mass Propagation of New Pluripotent Stem Cells in Space
The second part of the unique space technology pertains to the mass replication or propagation of stem cells in space, something that can be done on Earth but at much slower rates than in space. Although stem cells can be produced on Earth, current methods are inadequate to create large quantities of healthy cells in short periods of time. Our technology would allow for the en masse production of the highly valuable, unique stem cells the Company's core technology can create. Further, this ability to produce large quantities of healthy stem cells also provides for projected needs in regenerative medicine. Our six space missions have provided not only strong evidence supporting John Wayne Kennedy's original hypothesis of differential gene expression but also provided initial proof-of-concept that our production of human stem cells will replicate en masse. This is a very valuable process that will allow us to produce large quantities of the required stem cells in short order. In fact, we can predict orders of magnitude quantities in much shorter times than on Earth.