Precision BioSciences Creates New Food and Ag Brand


Gene snip illustration
-- Shutterstock image

Precision BioSciences, a Durham-based genome editing company, has created a new name and brand identity for its food and agriculture business: Elo Life Systems.

“Through Elo Life Systems, we continue to deliver on our mission to improve human health and wellness,” said Matt Kane, chief executive officer of Precision BioSciences. “Our product-ready technology platforms, a creative team and a partnership-friendly business model are already making an impact on the next generation of foods.”

Elo, to be held as a wholly owned subsidiary of Precision BioSciences, will use Precision’s proprietary genome-editing platform and other new technologies for applications in crop improvement, animal genetics, industrial biotechnology and sustainable agriculture, the company announced.

“Elo’s technology portfolio will serve as the foundation for discovery pipelines that leverage a multiscale biology approach to gain deeper functional insights and to rapidly translate such insights into actionable, product-worthy ideas,” said Fayaz Khazi, Elo’s chief executive officer. The Elo team is proud of its legacy and excited about this opportunity to shape the foods of tomorrow.”

Elo’s work is intended to help bridge the gap between agriculture and human health, the two companies said. Precision said its therapeutic-grade genome-editing system, ARCUS, “combines the specificity and efficacy” required for new products in agriculture as well as new gene therapies, cancer immunotherapies and cell therapies in health care.

Genome-editing is a precise tool for improving crops and plant-based foods to feed a growing global population. It allows scientists to delete detrimental genes introduced by in-breeding or genetic engineering, excise unwanted or unhealthy traits, correct mutated genes, or edit existing genes to confer a desirable trait without inserting foreign genes.

Corporate, academic partnerships formed

Elo has ongoing partnerships with several seed and food product companies including a recently announced strategic partnership with Cargill.

Through genome editing of rapeseed plants, the two companies are aiming to reduce saturated fat in canola oil, used widely by fast-food restaurants and food ingredients industries. The federal government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to limit saturated fat intake to 10 percent of their daily calories.

“This collaboration exemplifies the dedication of both companies toward making a health-centric global impact,” said Khazi.

Elo has also signed a strategic partnership agreement with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to jointly develop protein-rich and nutritionally enhanced tropical and sub-tropical horticultural and grain crops in Australia.

One of the first initiatives will be the development of drought-tolerant and disease-resistant chickpea, said QUT Professor Sagadevan Mundree, director of the Center for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities.

“We will also be seeking to develop chickpea varieties that have a higher protein content and greater bioavailability of iron and zinc, the deficiency of which is a significant global problem,” Mundree said.

Elo has created a new Australian subsidiary that will establish a research and development footprint in Brisbane and be co-located at QUT in Queensland.

“We hope the partnership between Elo and QUT serves as a springboard for collaborative creativity between our teams, to identify and resolve existing technological barriers to rapid innovation and address critical unmet needs to bridge the gap between agriculture and human health,” Khazi said.

Precision BioScences, a spinout company of Duke University, has grown to include about 100 employees and expects to hire about 40 more this year, an executive said earlier this year. The company has raised about $160 million in capital. 

Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
Tue, 06/05/2018 - 16:06