Monsanto Reaches New Licensing Agreement on CRISPR Technology

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Monsanto Company announced today (Jan. 4)  that it has reached a new global licensing agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for the use of the novel CRISPR-Cpf1 genome-editing technology in agriculture. The CRISPR-Cpf1 system represents an exciting advance in genome-editing technology, because it has potential to be a simpler and more precise tool for making targeted improvements in a cell’s DNA when compared to the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

Researchers believe that the CRISPR-Cpf1 system may offer an expanded set of benefits for advancing and delivering improved agricultural products than the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Some of these benefits include greater flexibility in the method used to edit and in the locations where edits may occur. In addition, the smaller size of the CRISPR-Cpf1 system provides researchers with more flexibility to use the genome-editing technology across multiple crops.

“The CRISPR-Cpf1 system is a powerful new discovery within the field of genome editing, and we’re excited to license the system and add it to our growing portfolio of genome-editing tools,” says Tom Adams, biotechnology lead for Monsanto. “This system offers a technical step-change by presenting new ways to improve crops for farmers and society alike, offering researchers greater flexibility and new capabilities using this emerging technology to improve agriculture.”

“The CRISPR-Cpf1 system represents a transformative application of genome editing for the research community,” says Issi Rozen, chief business officer of the Broad Institute. “This system can directly benefit advanced research in human health and global agriculture. We are proud to partner with stakeholders throughout the biomedical and agriculture community to help deliver responsible solutions for our planet.”

Monsanto believes that genome-editing technologies – including the CRISPR-Cpf1 system – will continue to provide a powerful tool for its research in plant breeding and biotechnology, with the promise to unlock the full potential of its world-leading germplasm and genome libraries and contribute to the development of exciting new products. The company is exploring genome editing in a phased approach across single-gene knock-outs, single-gene edits and multiple-gene edits.

During the past year, Monsanto has licensed multiple genome-editing technologies – including a separate license from the Broad Institute for use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in agriculture – to develop a leading portfolio of tools in this field. The intellectual property around the CRISPR-Cpf1 system is independent from the CRISPR-Cas patent estate, and this CRISPR-Cpf1 license provides Monsanto with another valuable tool for genome editing in this rapidly advancing field of science.

Under the agreement announced today, the Broad Institute grants Monsanto a worldwide non-exclusive license for agricultural applications of the CRISPR-Cpf1 system. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed. For more information on the Broad Institute, visit www.broadinstitute.org.

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