An exclusive licensing agreement for a new technology has been signed by Life Technologies, allowing scientists to program and control the genetic circuitry in engineered pathways and organisms. This technology was developed by scientists at Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, and it enables scientists to target and regulate expression within the genome.
Known as Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) Effector Technology, it acts like a navigation system for the genome. Control elements to any specified sequence can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy. TAL Effector technology allows proteins to be designed to target and bind to a chosen DNA sequence. Scientists are then able to deliver elements that control or change particular parts of cellular function. In addition, the technology gives researchers the ability to more accurately study and engineer gene function, with potential applications in energy, agriculture and healthcare.
The licensing agreement marks another step for Life Technologies in their strategic initiative to expand in the rapidly evolving synthetic biology market. This market is estimated to be worth up to $2.4 billion by the year 2013.
Following the licensing agreement, Life Technologies initially plans to offer the TAL Effector technology through its Geneart gene synthesis portfolio. Nonetheless, the company expects that the technology could be applied in other fields like stem cell research, drug discovery and bioproduction as well.
Life Technologies purchased about 59% of Germany’s Geneart in 2010, in order to increase its portfolio of custom gene-synthesis and gene-optimization services. Since then it has upped its investment in the company and now owns a 74% stake.
The TAL Effector platform was previously licensed to the Two Blades Foundation (2Blades) for all applications in plants, and 2Blades was a party to the new licensing agreement with Life Technologies along with the original inventors. While Life Technologies will have access to the technology for plant research, 2Blades retains rights to commercial applications in plants.