BetterSeeds enters into partnership to validate the use of CRISPR genome editing tools

MilliporeSigma has signed an agreement to demonstrate the utility of its CRISPR genome editing tools for agricultural purposes and to license its core CRISPR intellectual property to BetterSeeds, an Israel-based AgTech company that uses the genome, including CRISPR, to develop new breeds of plants.

MilliporeSigma’s experience in genome editing has led to one of the most comprehensive portfolios of CRISPR and other advanced genomics products and technologies. The company uses its expertise to offer products and services for a range of applications, including gene silencing, targeted integration and mutagenesis, and gene screening libraries to support basic science research and the development of new treatments and diagnostics. MilliporeSigma scientists continue to develop powerful and unique technologies and expand the reach of these applications to accelerate scientific research.

CEO of BetterSeeds, Ido Margalit.

MilliporeSigma’s leadership in the field of genome editing continues with this collaboration with BetterSeeds to demonstrate the potential for using its CRISPR genome editing tools in plants, including the following new tools in development: (1) CRISPR-CHROM, a Cas9 fusion with chromatin – peptide modification that improves both the efficiency of homology-directed repair (HDR) and the efficiency of insertion-deletion mutation (INDEL) at “hard-to-target” sites, (2) high-fidelity Cas9 (HiFi Cas9) to minimize off-target modifications, (3) high-quality HPLC-purified synthetic guide RNAs (gRNAs) to minimize toxicity effects, and (4) Cas9-GFP fusions to optimize transient gene editing strategies through ribonucleoprotein (RNP) delivery.

Paving the way for more applications
MilliporeSigma’s licensing of its CRISPR Core Intellectual Property to BetterSeeds is an important step in advancing the research, development and commercialization of genetically engineered plants using our CRISPR technology, including CRISPR-based integration. “CRISPR-based integration is a fundamental tool for many genome editing applications, but has always been exceptionally difficult to achieve in plants. With this collaboration, we aim to test the limits of the technology currently available in this critical sector, helping to bring food security to millions of people while reducing the environmental impact of the agricultural process,” said Angela Myers, Head of gene editing and new modalities at MilliporeSigma. MilliporeSigma holds approximately 50 CRISPR-related patents worldwide relating to methods and composition, including the fundamental technology of CRISPR-Cas9-mediated integration in eukaryotic cells.

BetterSeeds plans to use MilliporeSigma’s core CRISPR patent area to edit commercial crops such as cowpea and cannabis to develop and incorporate, including through the use of gene editing tools, traits that game changers, which are not currently available in many cultures due to the limitations of conventional breeding. BetterSeeds aims to address the agricultural challenges of the 21st century, including enabling farmers and policy makers to meet production targets while using significantly less arable land. The stated goal of BetterSeeds is to adapt the crops of today to the challenges of tomorrow! “We are delighted that MilliporeSigma has chosen BetterSeeds to validate its CRISPR tools in plants. Being the first AgTech company to access MillioporeSigma’s technology for plant applications will enhance BetterSeeds’ abilities to efficiently deliver high quality crops with improved traits,” said Ido Margalit, CEO of BetterSeeds.

“MilliporeSigma has been at the forefront of gene editing innovation for 17 years and continues to work, both ethically and responsibly, to democratize our patented CRISPR technology,” said Angela Myers. MilliporeSigma recognizes that genome editing has driven major advances in biological research and medicine. At the same time, the growing potential of gene-editing technologies has raised scientific, legal and societal concerns. MilliporeSigma supports research with genome editing by strictly adhering to ethical and legal standards. MilliporeSigma’s parent company, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has established an external and independent Bioethics Advisory Board to provide advice for research in which its activities are involved, including research on or using editing and transparently developed, defined and published a clear operational guide Principle of genome editing technology taking into account scientific and societal issues to inform promising therapeutic approaches for use in research applications.

MilliporeSigma actively licenses its CRISPR technology for agricultural, therapeutic and other uses and seeks collaborative partners for research and product development.

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