BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Cellectis SA entered a collaboration with BASF Plant Science GmbH providing for the German company to evaluate the possible use of Cellectis' Meganuclease I-SceI technology for the deletion/excision of nucleotide sequences, such as marker genes, in plants for agricultural and nutritional applications.

Cellectis' business development manager, Bruno Brisson, told BioWorld International the agreement also lays down the conditions under which Cellectis would license its technology to BASF if the evaluation is positive, but the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BASF Plant Science, of Limburgerhof, Germany, a subsidiary of the chemical giant BASF, plans to use Meganuclease I-SceI for excising marker genes in both model plants and improved crop plants. Meganuclease I-SceI belongs to the family of natural meganucleases, which are very rare restriction endonucleases used to induce site-directed, double-strand breaks in the genome of organisms. The use of Cellectis' technology should enable BASF to excise marker genes "with greater precision and efficiency," said Brisson.

Paris-based Cellectis has developed a technology platform based on the application of the Meganuclease Recombination System to in vivo genome engineering. It generates custom-made Meganucleases that target a unique DNA break in vivo and provides tools for in vivo site-directed recombination.

Its technology has a variety of applications in human therapeutics, drug discovery and agricultural and industrial biotechnology. Brisson said the collaboration with BASF is its third (and most specific) in the agri-food field after those concluded with U.S. company Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., a subsidiary of DuPont, and with the French seed company Limagrain, of Clermont-Ferrand.

BASF Plant Science embodies all the agrochemical and plant biotechnology activities of the BASF group, and its research and development platform spreads across seven sites in four countries in Europe and North America. Its activities focus on developing more efficient and sustainable agricultural methods, producing plants with an improved nutritional uptake and using plants as "green factories," for example developing crops with greater tolerance to drought.