As more and more genes are discovered, an issue for companies is how to rapidly design compounds to regulate those genes that are of therapeutic interest. The more like a cookie cutter such a process can be made, the quicker and cheaper it will be.

Sangamo BioSciences Inc. is approaching the question by focusing on engineering a particular class of transcription factors, called zinc finger DNA binding proteins, so that they can recognize and bind to any nucleic acid sequence - in other words, to any gene sequence. What makes zinc fingers an attractive focus, according to Edward Lanphier, founder, president and CEO, is that they can be engineered based on an established set of rules.