The Two Blades Foundation (2Blades), a not-for-profit organization focused on the development and deployment of durable disease resistance for agriculture, announced the April 16 issuance of a key patent for gene editing based on the use of TAL effectors.
TAL effectors are naturally occurring proteins found in plant pathogenic bacteria that contain a novel repeat structure that binds to specific DNA sequences according to a simple cipher or ‘code’. The discovery of this code enables researchers to target proteins to virtually any DNA sequence in a genome with accuracy and ease to delete, add, alter, or regulate genes with high precision.
The TAL code technology was discovered by Ulla Bonas, Jens Boch, Sebastian Schornack, and Thomas Lahaye at Martin-Luther University in Halle, Germany. It was named Method of the Year in 2011 by the journal Nature Methods and Best Novel Agricultural Technology in the 2012 Informa Agrow Awards. 2Blades has worked with the inventors to develop the technology and a comprehensive estate of patents. This issued patent, U.S. Pat. No. 8,420,782, is directed to TAL effectors with endonuclease activity.
2Blades has exclusive rights for commercial uses of the technology in plants. Targeted genome modifications in plants are useful to improve agronomic traits, including disease resistance, growth and yield, or tolerance to environmental conditions such as drought. 2Blades has licensed the technology on a non-exclusive basis to a broad range of leading agricultural companies, including Bayer CropScience, DuPont-Pioneer, KWS SAAT AG, Mendel Biotechnology, Monsanto, Simplot, Syngenta Biotechnology and others.
“Interest in licensing the technology for food and fuel applications continues to expand,” said 2Blades Chief Operating Officer, Diana Horvath. In support of 2Blades mission to benefit food security in developing countries, all licenses have a provision to grant back rights to improvements to the technology for 2Blades’ efforts for subsistence farming.
The development of TAL effector-based research tools is carried out under an exclusive license to the global biotechnology tools company, Life Technologies Corporation. Life Technologies has developed a line of products for precision genome engineering known as GeneArt® Precision TALs featuring a number of off the shelf and custom products. “2Blades and the inventors are truly pleased with our partnership with Life Technologies, “said Horvath. “In a short time, Life has developed a suite of products to make a powerful genome modification platform that is becoming the industry standard.”