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GEN News Highlights : Oct 25, 2010

Cellectis and the Center for iPS Cells Research and Application Join Forces

Firm will apply its genome-engineering technique to advance CiRA’s iPSCs as research tools.

Cellectis and the Center for iPS Cells Research and Application (CiRA) of Kyoto University have started a collaboration to improve research tools based on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Kyoto University founded CiRA in January 2008 as a part of the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) to advance iPSC research and applications.

Cellectis’ genome-engineering platforms will be combined with CiRA’s iPSCs. The aim is to rationally engineer the genome of these cells in a way that provides better control over their behavior.

Ectycell was established as a subsidiary of Cellectis in September 2009 to research and commercialize industrial uses of products derived from stem cells. Its initial goals are to develop tools for generating iPSCs from adult cells, robust and reproducible differentiation of stem cells, and cell libraries for testing drug candidates.

The company uses meganucleases to enable targeted modifications in DNA. Meganucleases are natural proteins found in many single-celled organisms. They are able to recognize their binding site by identifying a nucleic acid series that contains from 12 to over 30 base pairs and that is statistically unique in a genome. Once the break has been made, the cell activates its maintenance and repair system, or homologous recombination. This corrects the DNA molecule by using its twin copy as a model, for example.

Cellectis’ genome-engineering process involves introducing a meganuclease that is specific to the targeted site into the cell and inserting a gene with the attributes required to stimulate homologous recombination. The meganuclease breaks the DNA molecule, and the homologous recombination system corrects this break by taking as a model the gene introduced at the same time as the meganuclease.