Iowa State University has signed two exclusive license agreements with the French genome engineering company Cellectis granting the company worldwide rights to patent pending inventions related to TAL effector-nucleases (TALENs) technologies invented by Bing Yang, Assistant Professor of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Graduate Assistant Ting Li, and Postdoctoral Research Associate Sheng Huang. TALENs are sequence-specific DNA scissors that can be custom engineered to target and modify any gene of interest, in any species. These technologies have broad applications in genome engineering including fundamental genetic research, animal and crop improvement, and treatment of human genetic diseases. To read the October 25 press release from Cellectis click here.
In 2010, Bing Yang and Martin Spalding, (a Professor of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) and collaborators published a seminal TALENs paper that laid the foundation of the TALENs technologies. About the same time a second group led by Adam Bogdanove working at ISU (and now a former ISU Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology), along with Dan Voytas from the University of Minnesota and a former ISU professor of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology published similar findings. Cellectis had previously announced that it had licensed the TALENs technology co-developed by ISU and the University of Minnesota.