The deal saw Thermo Fisher obtain rights to market customisable DNA targeting and cutting enzymes – known as transcription activator-like effector-nucleases - for R&D and bioproduction applications from French life sciences firm Cellectis.
Helge Bastian, general manager and vice president of synthetic biology at Thermo said “The ability of TAL effectors to bind to DNA with unprecedented precision and reliability makes this technology invaluable to researchers looking to edit genomes and control gene activity.”
In nature TALEs – or transcription activator-like effectors – are proteins secreted by Xanthomonas bacteria that bind plant DNA and modulate gene expression to allow the bug to more easily colonize the infected host.
This ability to bind DNA is what makes TALEs useful for gene editing particularly because, unlike zinc-finger nucleases (ZFN) which are also used to edit DNA, the protein sequence responsible for binding is simple and can be readily modified to target specific sequences.
The licensed tech – which will be sold by Thermo’s Life Technologies division – was licensed by Cellectis from the University of Minnesota in 2011.
The Paris firm – which develops chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CARTs) for therapeutic applications – retains rights to use the technology for in-house R&D, plant biotechnology and use with T cells.