ToolGen is an early pioneer in gene editing research, and the license agreement is expected to provide Monsanto with access to ToolGen’s comprehensive suite of Crispr intellectual property for use in plants. Additionally, the deal expands Monsanto’s broad portfolio of gene-editing tools that can be used to develop improved and sustainable crops.
Crispr is the shorthand name for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” which are a set of DNA sequences first found in the E. coli bacterium by Japanese researchers in 1987. Further investigation showed they were part of the DNA of every living being that was tested, including humans. They functioned as “bookends,” indicating where individual genes start and stop in a long chain of DNA. They also were a place where DNA from invading viruses was stored in the host organism. If an identical virus attacked again, Crispr had the ability to mobilize an enzyme to cut out the unwelcome DNA and end the threat.
“We are excited to bring ToolGen’s Crispr platform on board at Monsanto, and are continuing to bolster and diversify our capabilities in this field of research,” said Tom Adams, Ph.D., vice-president of biotechnology for Monsanto. “As a company we remain committed to the development of safe, sustainable and high-quality crops, and look forward to leveraging the Crispr platform as we endeavor to meet the needs of farmers while answering consumer demand for food options.”
Monsanto and ToolGen noted that gene-editing technologies, like Crispr, offer agriculture researchers significant advantages over existing plant breeding and biotechnology methods due to their versatility and efficiency. In the case of the most recent collaboration, Monsanto said it will be able to provide farmers with solutions to problems that have been previously unaddressed.
“We are pleased to announce our agreement with Monsanto, a global agriculture leader, and look forward to working together to build new and exciting opportunities in agriculture,” said Jongmoon Kim, chief executive officer of ToolGen. “This agreement further validates our platform and demonstrates the value that gene editing will hold for the future of both agriculture and biotechnology.”