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Institut Curie, Meiogenix to Further Develop Technology to Increase Organism Genetic Diversity

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Curie-Cancer today announced two three-year partnerships between Institute Curie and French biotech firm Meiogenix to further develop that firm's meiotic recombination technology.

Under the terms of the deals, the technology called SpiX, short for Spo11-based technology, will be used in yeast and mice "to exploit the unexplored natural biodiversity of organisms."

Financial and other terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Based in Paris, Meiogenix develops genomic technologies to increase the genetic diversity of organisms. It is developing the SpiX technology under a licensing deal with Institut Curie and Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (the National Institute for Agricultural Research).

Homologous recombination enables two identical or similar DNA strands to exchange nucleotide sequences, a process that occurs naturally in all cells. Meiotic recombination occurs along the chromosome "generating the genetic diversity transmitted by the gametes," Curie-Cancer said, but recombination does not occur in all chromosomal regions and not at the same rate.

The SpiX technology targets and enhances meiotic recombination in so-called "cold" regions, where such recombination does not occur, by increasing the frequency of homologous recombination in these regions, thereby potentially opening up unexplored genetic diversity.

Alain Nicolas, the research director for the National Centre for Scientific Research at Institut Curie, and his colleagues developed the SpiX technology based on Spo11, an evolutionary conserved endonuclease that catalyzes the formation of meiotic double-strand breaks.

The technology was originally developed to treat cancer, and Meiogenix seeks to demonstrate that the technology can increase the frequency of meiotic recombination in the cold regions of plant genomes, including rice, corn, and wheat, which could lead to new commercial varieties of plants with beneficial traits that can be used to help meet growing global food demands.

In a statement, Nicolas said that the goals of the partnership with Curie-Cancer, the organization charged with developing Institut Curie's industry partnerships, are first, to explore the use of SpiX in animal models. To that end, the deal announced today will focus on mice models.

Also, the partnership will "investigate a second generation of the technology and new techniques to control meiotic recombination in yeast, an organism in which we have extensively validated the technology," Nicolas said.