Why We Started
At Pairwise, our goal is to create new crops and improve existing ones using gene editing. We believe these tools can provide farmers with new varieties that use less resources and are more productive. We also believe that we can make healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, more attractive and accessible to the consumer.
We can’t go it alone – from the get-go our strategy has been to seek out like-minded partners to extend the benefits of genome editing into more crop species. Our unique intellectual property position gives us the ability to work with a large cross section of companies that have identified problems and opportunities in numerous crops.
Contact us today to start talking about building partnerships that can change both the field and the produce aisle.
What We Do
Gene editing simply does what plant breeders have done for generations – leverage natural diversity in plants to bring out the traits that make them more nutritious, more convenient, more affordable, and more sustainable. With gene editing, Pairwise can do this faster. What would take decades, if not centuries, through traditional breeding can now be done in years.
Through gene editing, Pairwise is able to harness the power of existing genetic varieties to make improvements. We can pinpoint the traits in a plant that we want to bring forward, without also bringing forward others that may continue to cause challenges – which is what happens in breeding. Think about an heirloom tomato – we can pinpoint the traits that make it taste good and bring those forward, without bringing along the other traits that can make it susceptible to diseases. By rearranging a plant’s existing genetic code, we keep its natural elements but use them differently to grow better produce.
How We Do It
Our technical capabilities start with the intellectual property injected into the company by the founders. Through their research, Pairwise has licenses to base editing technology from Harvard University. Additionally, we have created the research team to extend and develop new gene editing applications that further our ability to make more healthy foods available.
But how, exactly, do we do it? We start with a deep understanding of plants – and we mean deep! Down to the combinations of A, G, C, and T that make up their genomes. Our first step is to use the tools of genetics and genomics to understand which pieces of DNA control which traits. Just like you have traits – brown eyes, large feet, freckles – plants have traits too – disease resistance, high antioxidant content, snack-sized fruit, smaller seeds- all controlled by DNA.
Not only do we make the connection between a piece of DNA and a trait, we also determine how changing the DNA could make the trait better. When plants were first domesticated to grow in fields, only a small fraction of the natural variation present in the DNA was advanced in modern crops. We can look at the natural diversity in the plant’s wild relatives to understand what potential exists for the crop. Often this natural variation helps us understand which changes will make a trait better. When we identify the change we want to make, say changing an A to a G, we use CRISPR proteins to target that specific piece of DNA and make that change. These tools also give us the ability to create changes that we can’t find in the wild; ones that can bring us new traits in those species.