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A-State's Hood Issued Two Biotechnology Patents


JONESBORO – Dr. Elizabeth Hood, Lipscomb Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at Arkansas State University, has been issued a pair of patents in the field of plant biotechnology and agriculture. 

The first, regulatory sequence of cupin family gene, has potential applications in the pharmaceutical industry as well as large-scale processing operations.  Cupin genes are responsible for making proteins in seeds that feed the seed when it germinates, and their controlling regions are useful to agriculturists to make proteins of interest accumulate to high levels in the seed.  This mechanism could be used to produce research chemicals, processing enzymes and industrial enzymes.

The second, methods of expressing and detecting activity of expansin in plant cells, helps to make large amounts of the protein expansin, which is normally available in scarce quantities.  The protein assists with breaking down of plant bodies into sugars so they can be fermented into biofuels.  Implications of this invention are far-reaching, and potential applications include biofuel production with post-harvest leftovers, which could significantly lower the barriers for production of an alternative fuel source.

Both patents were issued in 2017.

“The patents recently awarded to Dr. Hood are evidence of the leading-edge research being conducted in the area of agricultural biotechnology at Arkansas State University,” said Dr. Timothy Burcham, dean of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Technology. “She is a recognized leader in plant biotechnology research and our students benefit from having a world-class researcher and inventor in the classroom.  Hood’s successful patent applications are an excellent example of how we are educating, enhancing and enriching the lives of our students through research and scholarship.”

Highly respected in her field, Hood chairs the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation, was recently invited to serve on the scientific advisory board for a Gates Foundation-funded project in Spain because of her expertise in corn molecular biology, and gave last year’s keynote address at the 17th Euro Biotechnology Congress in Berlin, Germany.

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