Monsanto outsources genome technology to France's Cellectis

Monsanto Company has entered into a non-exclusive research and commercial licence agreement with France-based Cellectis SA, a biotechnology company specialised in genome engineering, for broad use of its meganuclease technology in plants, a company release said.

"Meganucleases are molecular scissors that can be directed to a single site in the genome of a plant cell, thereby allowing a wide range of precise genome modifications, including gene stacking, gene knock-out as well as modulation of gene function to develop new traits," the release said.

Under the agreement, Monsanto will have access to Cellectis' intellectual property on meganucleases and its custom meganuclease production platform.

Cellectis will receive an upfront payment of euro 3 million, and subject to the approval of the extraordinary general meeting of Cellectis' shareholders, Monsanto will make an equity investment of euro 1 million to allow Cellectis to scale the technology for agriculture. Cellectis will also be eligible to receive fees for the development of each meganuclease, success-based milestones and may receive royalties on certain traits commercialized by Monsanto. Further financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Being able to make precise genome modifications could enable us to advance projects even more rapidly through our R&D pipeline," said Robert Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto. "This technology has the potential to accelerate delivery of our ever expanding trait pipeline to farmers in the form of value-added, multi-trait products."

"This agreement with Monsanto, the leader in agricultural biotechnology, could allow our meganuclease-based genome engineering technology to be put to use in developing the next generation of quality crops," said Andre Choulika, chief executive officer of Cellectis, adding, "The number of meganuclease users in agricultural biotechnology continues to grow. This agreement confirms our leading position in targeted gene modifications."