Caribou was founded by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley to drive the commercialization of applications based on the remarkable nucleic acid modification capabilities found in prokaryotic CRISPR systems. In 2007, Rodolphe Barrangou, a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Caribou Biosciences and current scientific advisor, led the group that characterized CRISPR systems as a form of prokaryotic adaptive immunity that provides a critical line of defense against invading phages, plasmids, and environmental nucleic acids. CRISPR systems have evolved to enable prokaryotes to acquire DNA from their environment and incorporate it into their genomes within specialized arrays of repetitive DNA. These CRISPR sequences act as a form of genomic memory that can be accessed to defend the cell when it is invaded by plasmids or phages that contain the recorded sequences.
These genetic arrays are accompanied by CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins, enzymes that include over 70 families of proteins with the ability to manipulate RNA and DNA in specific ways. Of these proteins, Cas9 stands out as the poster child for the robust capabilities that have evolved within CRISPR system. Research carried out at UC Berkeley in the lab of Caribou co-founder Jennifer Doudna demonstrated that Cas9 can be programmed to bind and cleave virtually any DNA sequence. Ongoing work at founders' laboratories and at Caribou continues to explore the basic mechanisms of CRISPR, which may allow us to create future innovations based on this remarkable system. At the core of Caribou's extensive CRISPR technology IP portfolio is an exclusive license to the foundational CRISPR-Cas9 work from the University of California and the University of Vienna. Caribou licenses this technology to strategic partners who are recognized leaders in our target market sectors.