Monsanto will have access to an updated genome-editing technology after signing a global licensing agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for the use of CRISPR-Cpf1 in agriculture. The CRISPR-Cpf1 system has potential to be a simpler and more precise tool for making targeted improvements in a cell’s DNA when compared to the CRISPR-Cas9 system.
Researchers believe that the CRISPR-Cpf1 system may offer an expanded set of benefits for advancing and delivering improved agricultural products than the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Some of these benefits include greater flexibility in the method used to edit and in the locations where edits may occur. In addition, the smaller size of the CRISPR-Cpf1 system provides researchers with more flexibility to use the genome-editing technology across multiple crops.
“The CRISPR-Cpf1 system is a powerful new discovery within the field of genome editing, and we’re excited to license the system and add it to our growing portfolio of genome-editing tools,” said Tom Adams, Ph.D., biotechnology lead for Monsanto, in a recent release. “This system offers a technical step-change by presenting new ways to improve crops for farmers and society alike, offering researchers greater flexibility and new capabilities using this emerging technology to improve agriculture.”
Over the last year, Monsanto has licensed multiple genome-editing technologies – including a separate license from the Broad Institute for use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in agriculture – to develop a leading portfolio of tools in this field. The intellectual property around the CRISPR-Cpf1 system is independent from the CRISPR-Cas patent estate.