Monsanto said it has signed a nonexclusive global license with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for agricultural applications of its CRISPR/Cas genome-editing technology.
The value of the agreement and other terms were not disclosed.
Monsanto—which is being acquired by Bayer for $66 billion—and the Broad Institute said the agreement is expected to be applied toward improved crops.
“Genome-editing technologies, such as CRISPR/Cas, offer a way for scientists to promote site-directed integration of specific genes as well as the opportunity to enhance beneficial or remove undesired plant characteristics. These techniques will enable plant breeders to deliver better hybrids and varieties more efficiently,” Monsanto said in a statement.
The license “provides access to an exciting tool for our growing body of genome-editing research,” added Tom Adams, Ph.D., biotechnology lead for Monsanto. “Genome-editing technology is complementary to our ongoing discovery research and provides an incredible resource to further unlock our world-leading germplasm and genome libraries.”
The license is not Monsanto’s first to involve genome editing. On June 28, Monsanto said it obtained an exclusive license to TargetGene Biotechnologies’ “T·GEE” (Genome Editing Engine) platform for agricultural applications, and obtained rights to use Nomad Bioscience’s technology to genome-editing projects aimed at enhancement of agricultural crops.
The Nomad agreement includes a 3-year research project, during which period Monsanto has rights to use Nomad’s technology for research projects, and an option for Monsanto to obtain an exclusive commercial license to apply Nomad’s technology in development of agriculture products.
DuPont Pioneer in April announced its intent to commercialize the first agricultural product developed through the use of CRISPR/Cas—a next-generation version of waxy corn hybrids that the company said is expected to be available to U.S. growers within 5 years, subject to field trials and regulatory review.
Last year, DuPont Pioneer agreed to license exclusively guided Cas9 genome-editing technology from Vilnius University for all commercial uses, including in agriculture, and agreed with Caribou Biosciences to cross-license their respective CRISPR/Cas9 patent portfolios. The Caribou agreement gave DuPont Pioneer exclusive intellectual property rights for CRISPR/Cas technology applications in major row crops and nonexclusive rights in other agricultural and industrial bioscience applications.