The technology has broad utility in the pharmaceutical industry, synthetic biology, and plant sciences for creating genetically modified cell lines, animals and plants, and is being actively explored for potential uses in human gene therapy.
Life Technologies has exclusive rights to U.S. Patent No. 8,420,782 B2, "Modular DNA-Binding Domains and Methods of Use" issued April 16, a fundamental intellectual property for all applications of TAL effectors in fields outside commercial use in plants. Life markets TALENS under the brand name GeneArt® Precision TAL Technology. TAL effectors bind to specific DNA sequences with higher precision than zinc finger binding proteins and can be used to deliver a variety of functional elements to activate or repress gene expression or cut and insert DNA.
"The GeneArt® Precision TAL technology is being employed in numerous commercial R&D applications, including identification of new pharmaceutical compounds, disease modeling and bioproduction technology," said Nathan Wood, general manager and vice president of synthetic biology at Life Technologies. "Their ability to bind to DNA with unprecedented precision and reliability makes TAL effectors invaluable to researchers looking to edit genomes and control gene activity."
The current patent names Jens Boch, Ulla Bonas, Thomas Lahaye and Sebastian Schornack as inventors, and is based on work conducted at Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg. The Two Blades Foundation, a U.S.-based charitable organization, owns exclusive rights to commercial applications in plants and is committed to making TAL technology broadly available through licensing.
"Patent protection brings increased assurance to our industrial customers with regard to bringing new products to market," said Wood, "and for our agriculture customers, through our strong partnership with Two Blades, a path forward in commercializing their R&D efforts."
Among Life Technologies' first sublicensees of TAL technology are ToolGen, Inc., which is using the technology to generate transgenic animal models and cell lines and Cellular Dynamics International, which is applying TAL effectors to introduce or correct disease-associated mutations in induced pluripotent stem cell lines.
GeneArt® Precision TALs are supplied as Gateway® compatible entry clones encoding a DNA binding protein for a specific customer-submitted sequence fused to a range of customer selected effector domains. Custom TALs are typically delivered within two weeks after orders are placed.