Monsanto Company and TargetGene Biotechnologies LTD, a pioneer in genome-editing technologies, have announced a license agreement to advance the application of the company’s proprietary techniques in global agriculture. TargetGene is an innovative genome-editing company using RNA-guided gene-editing techniques. In addition, Monsanto and Nomad Bioscience GmbH announced a licensing agreement whereby Monsanto has obtained rights to apply Nomad’s proprietary technology to its genome-editing projects aimed at enhancement of agricultural crops.

Under the agreement with TargetGene, Monsanto has been granted an exclusive license to TargetGene’s novel and proprietary "T∙GEE" (Genome Editing Engine) platform to deliver continuous improvements in agriculture. Monsanto has also established an equity position in the private Israel-based company. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“TargetGene has uniquely positioned itself to develop precision-editing techniques that can improve a broad range of solutions that help growers around the world deliver better harvests,” said Tom Adams, biotechnology lead for Monsanto. “Monsanto has conducted extensive research with various gene-editing approaches for years, and we believe access to TargetGene’s technology will help drive further precision and efficiency within the company’s robust plant breeding and biotechnology pipelines.”

The companies noted that gene-editing technology and the broad array of emerging gene-editing techniques represent a key scientific tool that can deliver breakthroughs in agriculture. The science is the biological equivalent to the “search and replace” function in computer word-processors. Monsanto believes that genome-editing technologies will enable plant breeders to deliver better hybrids and varieties more efficiently, as well as offer plant scientists additional resources to provide new improvements in plant biotechnology.

The agreement with Nomad includes a three-year research project, during which scientists at Nomad will continue to expand the applicability of their technology. In addition, the agreement provides Monsanto with rights to use Nomad’s technology for research projects during the term, as well as an option for an exclusive commercial license to apply the proprietary technology in the development of agriculture products. Additional details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Nomad's licensed technology enables more efficient development of edited traits and may be applied across a broad range of genome-editing technologies and project types. Nomad’s novel approach holds the promise to accelerate the development of improved agricultural products via genome editing.

“Our approach greatly increases both the efficiency of genome editing and the ability to deploy edited traits in commercial varieties, which could prove to be beneficial to the speed and scale at which potential products are developed,” said Yuri Gleba, Ph.D., chief executive officer and Nomad founder.

Gene-editing technologies offer a way for scientists to develop site-directed integration of specific genes as well as the opportunity to enhance beneficial or remove undesired plant characteristics. Monsanto believes that genome-editing technologies will enable plant breeders to deliver better hybrids and varieties more efficiently, as well as offer plant scientists additional resources to deliver new improvements in plant biotechnology.

Nomad is a privately-held biotechnology company headquartered in Munich, Germany.