Rehovot, Israel (June 3, 2020) – Evogene Ltd., a leading computational biology company targeting to revolutionize life-science product development across several market segments, announced its participation in the CRISPR-IL consortium. The goal is to develop “Go-Genome”, an artificial intelligence (AI) based, end-to-end system for genome-editing to be used in multi-species for pharma, agriculture, and aquaculture. Evogene’s CSO, Dr. Eyal Emmanuel will serve as the Chairman of the consortium.
The CRISPR-IL consortium has been approved for 1.5 years by the Israeli Innovation Authority and may be extended to an additional 1.5 years. The consortium’s total budget (for the first period) is approximately ILS 36 million (roughly $10 million), partially funded by a grant from the Israeli Innovation Authority. CRISPR-IL participants include leading companies, medical institutions, and academic institutions. Apart from Evogene, key participants include BTG – Bio-technology General Israel, Colors Farm, Hazera Seeds, NRGene, Pluristem, Rahan Meristem Ltd., TargetGene; medical institutions: Sheba Medical Center, Schneider Children’s Medical Center; and academia: Bar-Ilan University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, IDC Herzliya, Tel-Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute.
CRISPR is a genome-editing technology for detecting and modifying DNA sequences. It is used as a tool to enable precise genetic alterations without the introduction of foreign DNA. The technology enables the development of unique bio-based products and novel therapeutics while reducing the time and cost of development. Current CRISPR-based workflows target precise areas within the DNA, however, these workflows still face several challenges, which prevent more extensive use of this tool, including: (i) accidental off-target modification, (ii) inefficient modifications and (iii) inaccurate measuring tools to ascertain that the modification was effective as intended.
The CRISPR-IL consortium intends to develop an artificial intelligence-based system, “Go-Genome”, providing users improved genome-editing workflows. The system aims to provide end-to-end solutions, from user interface to an accurate measurement tool. The system is expected to include the computational design of on-target DNA modification, with minimal accidental, off-target modifications, improve modification efficiency and provide an accurate measuring tool to ensure the desired modification was made. This system intends be designed to be effective in multi-species, including human, plant, and certain animal DNA applicable to market segments in pharma, agriculture and aquaculture.
Evogene’s work in the consortium is expected to include the broadening of its artificial intelligence capabilities that are expected to extend the range of its GENErator AI solution (part of Evogene’s CPB platform). Evogene’s GENErator AI solution already includes computational capabilities directing “which” edit should be made to achieve a specific trait; and the capabilities developed within the framework of the consortium aim to improve “how” these edits are made.
Dr. Eyal Emmanuel, Chairman of the CRISPR-IL consortium and CSO of Evogene comments, “Our mission is to position Israel as a top technological hub for the use of AI in genome editing. The all-encompassing system the consortium aims to develop, is expected to expand the scope of Evogene’s discovery and development offerings for genetic elements, including for its subsidiaries. We believe this is a unique opportunity for applying computational biology and artificial intelligence to genome editing. We are excited to be leading this effort through decoding biology.”
Prof. Avraham A. Levy, Chairman of Evogene’s Scientific Advisory Board and Dean of the Biochemistry faculty at the Weizmann Institute of Science comments, “The workplan proposed by Evogene within the CRISPIL consortium addresses important gaps in our scientific understanding of the CRISPR technology. Evogene’s unique computational analytical tools, together with the data produced by the consortium, have the potential to enable a more effective utilization of genome editing in medicine and agriculture, paving the road for novel products and treatments."
Evogene (NASDAQ: EVGN, TASE: EVGN.TA) is a leading computational biology company targeting to revolutionize product development for life-science based industries, including human health, agriculture, and industrial applications. Incorporating a deep understanding of biology and leveraging Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, Evogene established its unique technology, the Computational Predictive Biology (CPB) platform. The CPB platform is designed to computationally discover and develop life-science products based on microbes, small molecules and genetic elements as the core components for such products. Evogene holds a number of subsidiaries utilizing the CPB platform, for the development of human microbiome-based therapeutics, medical cannabis, ag-biologicals, ag-chemicals, seed traits and ag-solutions for castor oil production. For more information, please visit www.evogene.com