DuPont and Caribou Biosciences, a leading developer of CRISPR-Cas technologies for genome editing, jointly announced a strategic alliance. As part of the agreement, DuPont and Caribou  have cross-licensed their respective patent portfolios, with DuPont receiving exclusive intellectual property rights for CRISPR-Cas technology applications in major row crops, and non-exclusive rights in other agricultural and industrial bioscience applications.

In addition, the alliance between DuPont and Caribou involves a multi-year research collaboration with scientists from the two organizations focused on enhancing the breadth, versatility and efficiency of the core CRISPR-Cas toolkit. DuPont also has made a minority equity investment in Caribou to further strengthen the working relationship.

“DuPont intends to lead in the application of CRISPR-Cas technology to improve agricultural productivity and enhance food security. Our alliance with Caribou is now at the forefront of this emerging science and will speed our development of this important platform to create long-term value for our company and our customers,” said James C. Borel, executive vice president, DuPont. “Specifically, we believe CRISPR-Cas has significant potential to advance plant breeding and expand the range of agricultural solutions available to farmers. We look forward to bringing related products to market in the next five to 10 years.”

CRISPR-Cas technology is capable of making exact changes to the DNA of most organisms. In plants, this editing capability can be applied to promote drought tolerance and disease resistance to protect plant health and increase crop yields. It also can provide direct consumer benefits like the removal of food allergens and the improvement of the nutrient composition of plant-derived oils.

“We are delighted to work with DuPont on what we believe will be a truly groundbreaking collaboration,” said Rachel Haurwitz, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer and co-founder of Caribou Biosciences. “DuPont has been responsible for numerous breakthroughs in CRISPR biology and we are excited to gain access to their impressive knowledge and expertise in developing and applying Cas-mediated genome editing technologies in promising commercial areas. This initiative will serve as a vital accelerator to our advancement of new applications for CRISPR-Cas gene editing that will help bring the tremendous promise this technology holds for patients and consumers to reality.”

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

This most recent license and collaboration agreement completed by DuPont represents a cornerstone of its strategy as an early adopter and leader in the CRISPR-Cas field. It complements DuPont’s own estate of related patent applications, and adds to the previously announced licensing and collaboration agreements with Vilnius University.

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a feature naturally existing in bacteria providing protection against viruses. DuPont scientists were among the first to understand how the CRISPR system works in bacteria. CRISPR-Cas (CRISPR associated proteins) is one of several CRISPR-derived tools and differs from the natural CRISPR process used to identify and immunize bacteria. The DuPont patent portfolio comprises more than 60 patents and patent applications related to the use of CRISPR for bacteria identification and immunization. It also comprises multiple patent applications related to the CRISPR-Cas genome editing technology.