22nd Century's R&D Builds Value and Fuels Growth

22nd Century uses the latest, most efficient techniques in genetic modification and plant breeding to create strains of ultra-low nicotine tobacco, hemp/cannabis, and hops for the consumer marketplace.

We have created ultra-low nicotine tobacco strains that help smokers to smoke less. Likewise, we are developing hemp and hop strains with the chemical profiles and robust agronomic traits to fulfill current and anticipate future market needs.

Our unique blend of corporate integration, strategic alliances, technological expertise, and product cycle refinement put us at the forefront of this work.


The blueprint for all life on Earth is based upon deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is a long chain of molecular “bases” that use a code, consisting of 4 different elements (A,C,T, and G). Discrete segments of code, called genes, provide the information for producing specific proteins. This code is “transcribed” into a “message” (mRNA) that defines the protein to be made from it. The message is read or “translated” in groups of 3 elements (codons) to sequentially specify and assemble each component amino acid, yielding any given protein in every living thing. These proteins act as small machines that enable cells to maintain and repair themselves, communicate with other cells, reproduce, and process substances characteristic of each organism. Each cell’s complement of DNA is used to direct its productive capacity and interactions with other cells that, in-turn, make up the entire organism. In more complex organisms (plants, animals, and humans), this DNA is tightly bundled in the center or “nucleus” of the cell.

How Gene Editing Differs From Genetic Modification

Gene editing (or genome editing) comprises a spectrum of tools and techniques, including CRISPR technology, that can be used to alter an organism’s DNA in a precise and targeted way. Gene editing can modify specific points within the organism’s own DNA, leaving nothing behind but the altered DNA sequence. This differs from traditional genetic modification (GM) where internal DNA changes or DNA from an unrelated species are introduced into the genome of an organism, often in a non-targeted way.

Modern genetic technology is the key to designing our tobacco, hemp/cannabis, and hop strains. New fields in biology, such as molecular genetics, metabolomics, and bioinformatics empower and guide this technology. We can then use various genetic engineering techniques, such as DNA sequencing, molecular breeding, and gene/genome editing, to engineer the changes we desire.

Step 1

The end-use need is determined by the business team and the R&D group. They decide together what needs to change.

Step 2

Through sequencing and mapping, we utilize the DNA to determine the target section.

Step 3

A guide for precision (RNA strand) is created and attached to an enzyme. The RNA then finds the target section of the DNA while the enzyme works like a pair of scissors to cut the DNA.

Step 4

From there, the edited DNA section can naturally heal itself with minor changes altering the gene function, or it can heal itself with a section missing making the gene inoperable.


These modern techniques allow us to determine the specific DNA coding sequences that plants use to produce chemicals of interest, to edit these sequences in a precise manner, and to quickly measure the results of these changes. As an example, by modifying the DNA that directs alkaloid production in tobacco plants, we have developed plants that have 95% less nicotine than the average tobacco plant. Likewise, we can manipulate hemp/cannabis to increase levels of therapeutic cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol) or modulate the relative amounts of volatile fragrant terpenes to suit consumer preferences.

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