The BRAIN Engineered Cas (BEC) gene-editing tool will be applied to one of the world’s largest libraries of marine organisms to search for ways to make compounds more sustainable and cost effective, under a research collaboration announced by Germany’s BRAIN Biotech and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
The collaborators will initially focus on marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and believe the alignment of their various skills will enable the development of approaches that will be more environmentally sustainable, and have applications for the nutritional, pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors. One of the main aims of the research strategy is to look for new and more efficient ways to express existing marine compounds, without actually altering their genetic structure.
BRAIN Biotech AG, a publicly-listed company based in Germany, will licence its proprietary genome editing technology BEC to SAMS, which is based in Oban, Scotland, where its marine and freshwater organism library (Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa) – one of the world’s largest – holds some 3,000 different algae strains. The research license will allow SAMS to activate, adapt and optimize the BEC technology for the various marine-based compounds. Under the agreement, any future commercial applications will then be explored by Adam Kelliher, a life science entrepreneur who has founded and sold two companies in the omega-3 field, the most recent being based in the Western Isles of Scotland.
“With our BEC technology, we are aiming to build a leading commercial platform for genome editing,” said Lukas Linnig, CFO at BRAIN Biotech AG. “Strong partners are essential to quickly develop our BEC tool for a number of applications. With SAMS we will now advance our research and application knowledge in the marine space. We are also very much looking forward to working with Adam Kelliher, who will lead the commercialization of the project. Adam is a serial entrepreneur and has demonstrated his strong commercial skills by already successfully launching two companies in the Omega-3 space. The terms of a potential commercial license will be negotiated at a later stage.”
Dr David Green, SAMS principal investigator in molecular microbiology, said: “This unique relationship with BRAIN will allow us to apply our significant knowledge of marine microorganisms to springboard development of novel algal production systems. And coupling this with the commercial acumen of Adam Keliher, will expedite translation of concepts through to real-world commercial solutions.”
Adam Kelliher, life science entrepreneur and project sponsor, said: “I strongly believe that this project has the potential to be truly disruptive in the omega-3 space. Bringing together the skillsets of both BRAIN and SAMS should allow us to unlock compounds with great commercial potential. There is a strong body of science to show that lipids are life-enhancing for a myriad of conditions and applications, and our aim is to deliver these with approaches that are both cost effective and sustainable.”
The BRAIN Engineered Cas (BEC) protein is a novel genome editing nuclease with validated genome editing activity in various microorganisms. The technology is already employed in BRAIN’s tailor made solution segment within customer projects and for the development of BRAIN’s own incubator projects. BEC is now further developed into a leading genome-editing platform within a strong partner network.