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Agritope Receives Department of Commerce Grant

    BEAVERTON, Ore., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Epitope, Inc. (Nasdaq: EPTO) today
announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Agritope, Inc. has been awarded a
grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST), Advanced Technology Program (ATP).  The ATP grant will
provide funding of approximately $1 million over a three-year period to
support genetic engineering research to control the ripening process of
certain tree fruit and bananas.
    Agritope has identified and patented a single gene that can be inserted
into plants through techniques of plant genetic engineering and expressed to
regulate the plant's ability to produce the ripening hormone ethylene.  The
focus of Agritope's ATP-funded research will be to use the tools and
techniques of plant genetic engineering to precisely regulate the ripening
process in apples, peaches, pears and bananas.
    "The ATP award to Agritope validates our genetic modification approach to
controlling the deleterious effects of ethylene in ripening fruits.  This
grant will provide us with the opportunity to demonstrate the potential for
improving product quality as well as production economics in these
ethylene-sensitive crops.  We believe that this award further demonstrates the
value of plant genetic engineering in sustaining and enhancing the vitality of
the U.S. agricultural economy," said Adolph J. Ferro chairman, president and
chief executive officer of Agritope.
    Agritope's partner in the tree fruit portion of this program is Van Well
Nursery, a leading North American tree-fruit nursery based in Wenatchee, WA.
Agritope will perform the molecular and cell biology component of the project
and will transfer the genetically modified trees to Van Well Nursery for
grow-out and fruit production.
    The banana portion of the program will combine the expertise of Agritope
with the resources of the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Inc.
(BTI).  BTI, located in Ithaca, New York, is an endowed non-profit foundation
associated with Cornell University whose goal is to expand the frontiers of
plant biology research.  Under the direction of Dr. Charles J. Arntzen, BTI
has developed broad-based expertise in the genetic modification of banana
while pursuing a program of edible vaccine production in the fruit.
    The ATP program provides cost-shared funding to industry for high risk R&D
projects with the potential to initiate important economic benefits for the
U.S.  The awards are made on the basis of a rigorous competitive review
considering scientific and technical merit of each proposal and its potential
benefits to the U.S. economy.
    Agritope, Inc. is an agricultural biotechnology company specializing in
the development of new fruit and vegetable varieties for sale to the fresh
produce industry.  In July, Epitope, Inc. announced plans to spin off Agritope
to Epitope's shareholders.  The spin-off is expected to be completed in
November 1997.

Source: EPITOPE Inc.


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