Life Technologies Signs Exclusive License Agreement for TAL Effector Technology That Enables Synthetic Biologists to Precisely Control Gene Expression in Engineered Organisms
CARLSBAD, Calif., June 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Life Technologies Corporation has signed an exclusive license agreement for novel technology that enables synthetic biologists to effectively program and control the genetic circuitry in engineered pathways and organisms. This technology, discovered by the inventors while at Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, provides the ability to target and regulate expression within the genome and will enable researchers to more accurately study and engineer gene function to develop solutions for better healthcare, agriculture and energy.
The TAL Effector Technology license was jointly signed with inventors Jens Boch, Ulla Bonas, Thomas Lahaye and Sebastian Schornack, and the Two Blades Foundation (2Blades), which exclusively licensed plant research tool uses to Life Technologies and retains exclusive rights for commercial applications in plants. This license marks another step in the company’s strategic initiative to expand its presence in the rapidly evolving synthetic biology market, which is estimated to reach up to $2.4 billion by 2013, according to a report by BCC Research.
Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) Effector Technology, first published in the Dec. 2009 issue of Science (Vol. 326), allows proteins to be designed to specifically target and bind to a desired sequence of DNA. TAL code is similar to a navigation system for the genome, allowing pinpoint delivery of functional control elements to any specified sequence. The functional elements delivered to these areas can be used to regulate or engineer the genome to control cellular function, which will aid scientists in broad areas of research and development.
“A key factor in the successful design and functionality of synthetically-based organisms is the ability to precisely regulate their metabolic pathways,” said Nathan Wood, Vice President of Synthetic Biology for Life Technologies. “TAL Effector Technology can fulfill that need by offering the first molecular tool to reliably design control mechanisms in cells.”
By unveiling the fundamental code that details how TAL Effectors target specific genomic regions, the technology’s inventors have provided scientists with a powerful tool to specifically target and engineer precise genetic control and to predictably affect other cellular functions.
The ability to control expression in target areas within a genome is pivotal for synthetic biologists working to develop a variety of chemical-producing organisms for purposes that could help solve some of the world’s preeminent challenges. Such applications may include the development of biofuels to decrease society’s dependence on fossil fuels, new vaccines to improve human health, or higher-yielding food crops that are more resistant to changing weather patterns.
TAL Effector Technology, broadly licensed by Life Technologies, was developed in Germany and licensed originally by 2Blades for all applications in plants, and augments Life Technologies’ growing portfolio of tools and capabilities it offers to the synthetic biology community. Life Technologies initially plans to make TAL Effector Technology available via its GeneArt gene synthesis portfolio. However, this enabling technology has far broader applications than synthetic biology and will be developed for use in many other fields such as bioproduction, stem cell research and drug discovery.
About Life Technologies (www.lifetechnologies.com)
Life Technologies Corporation is a global biotechnology company dedicated to improving the human condition. Our systems, consumables and services enable researchers to accelerate scientific and medical advancements that make life even better. Life Technologies customers do their work across the biological spectrum, working to advance the fields of discovery and translational research, molecular medicine, stem cell-based therapies, food safety and animal health, and 21st century forensics. The company manufactures both molecular diagnostic and research use only products. Life Technologies’ industry-leading brands are found in nearly every life sciences lab in the world and include innovative instrument systems under the Applied Biosystems and Ion Torrent names, as well as, the broadest range of reagents with its Invitrogen, GIBCO, Ambion, Molecular Probes and Taqman products. Life Technologies had sales of $3.6 billion in 2010, has a workforce of approximately 11,000 people, has a presence in approximately 160 countries, and possesses one of the largest intellectual property estates in the life sciences industry, with approximately 3,900 patents and exclusive licenses. For more information on how we are making a difference, please visit our website: http://www.lifetechnologies.com.
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