Calyxt powering advances in plant sciences, crop traits and building robust portfolio of products


Its TALEN gene-editing technology allows for precision targeting of coveted existing genes within a plant’s genome

Calyxt - Calyxt powering advances in plant sciences, crop traits and building robust portfolio of products

Quick facts: Calyxt

Price: 3.9 USD

Market: NASDAQ
Market Cap: $144.55 m
  • Calyxt sells a premium soybean cooking oil Calyno  
  • TALEN gene-editing technology is a game-changer  
  • Strong management team with proven track record  

What Calyxt does: 

Calyxt Inc (NASDAQ:CLXT) is a plant-based technology company, which is developing healthier specialty food ingredients and food crops using gene-editing technology.  

Founded in 2010, the Roseville, Minnesota-based company is doing what farmers and botanists have been doing for hundreds of years: choosing the best crops and breeding them to make higher-yielding plants. It accelerates that process with its TALEN gene-editing technology.

Developed in part by Calyxt co-founder and chief science officer Dan Voytas, Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nuclease — better known as TALEN — is an advanced breeding technology that allows for precision targeting of existing genes within a plant’s genome. That targeting allows Calyxt scientists to select desired characteristics, and precisely engineer beneficial crop traits, accelerating breeding at a fraction of the time it would normally take.

Unlike genetically modified (GMO) crops, Calyxt products contain no foreign DNA. The company simply harnesses the unique characteristics that naturally exist in the plant.

Next, it gets the seeds to growers who are a part of its premium producer program. The crops are traceable right to the county in which they were grown, thanks to the company’s Identity Preserved Program that tracks seeds all the way to the final product.

The company engages in the development of products, which include high fiber wheat, alfalfa, reduced browning potatoes, and high and low linolenic soybean products.

How is it doing:

In November, Calyxt’s third-quarter results showed growing revenue and narrowing losses, thanks to increased sales of its grain and other crops. For the period ended March 31, 2020, Calyxt posted a 77% jump in revenue to $5.2 million. The firm’s adjusted net loss improved by $2.6 million to $9.3 million from the third quarter of 2019.

Calyxt executed a commercial trait licensing agreement in October - the company’s first - with Colorado-based S&W Seed Company for its improved quality alfalfa seed in the US and other select geographies. The enhanced trait gives farmers the opportunity to produce alfalfa forage for livestock with improved digestibility, which may lead to greater animal performance. The deal could generate more than $10 million in revenue over the life of the trait’s pending patent, the company said.

Another key driver was advances in Calyxt’s go-to-market strategy for its soybean product line. The company’s current inventory of soybean oil and meal has been sold, and Calyxt said it is negotiating with large grain processors for the sale of all remaining grain inventories.

Calyxt is expanding its portfolio with next-generation legumes and plants, including high oleic low linolenic (HOLL) soybean, developed using its TALEN gene-editing technology. With its TALEN platform, the company is exploring licensing agreements with partners about Calyxt-developed traits or products for upfront and milestone payments and potential royalties upon the commercial sale of products.

The company said it will be working with partners to accelerate its pipeline of high fiber wheat, low THC hemp for food, fiber and therapeutics, gluten-free and cold-tolerant oats, and pulses with improved flavor and protein profiles.

During the second quarter, Calyxt released a non-edited hemp germplasm by selling plants directly to a grower. The germplasm is expected to serve as the base for its other planned hemp projects planned for 2023 and 2024.

In April, Calyxt successfully launched Calyno, a premium high oleic soybean cooking oil, the company’s first commercial product, through its new website calyno.com. The high oleic soybean is grown by Midwest farmers to provide the benefits of a heart-healthy oil. The soybean product is allergen and gluten-free with zero grams of trans fat per serving and 20% reduced saturated fat.

That earned the oil a qualified heart health claim from the US Food and Drug Administration. Calyno offers lower absorption than other oils, which means greater stability and a longer fry life than conventional vegetable oil. This makes Calyxt the first company to commercialize a gene-edited food product focused on consumer health in the US.

Calyxt has recently struck a research collaboration with NRGene that will see the company adopt NRGene’s cloud-based genomics platform to support key research projects. Calyxt says it will integrate NRGene’s genomic resources with its TALEN gene-editing technology to build out its predictive data analytics, which combines insights, scientific data, algorithms and data visualization tools to develop customized products. The NRGene’s genomics platform is expected to accelerate Calyxt’s trait discovery in hemp.

Calyxt has said it expects to launch at least six products between now and 2026, starting with a hemp product. The company's plans also revolve around the launch of a high-fiber wheat product targeted for early 2022.

Inflection points:

  • Traction from the launch of improved digestibility alfalfa
  • Momentum with high oleic soybean meal and products  
  • Big upside potential in leveraging TALEN gene-editing technology
  • The successful debut of premium soybean cooking oil Calyno

What the boss says:

"The third quarter of 2020 was marked by two key milestones: an initial validation of our licensing business model with the execution of our agreement for Calyxt’s alfalfa product candidate and the continued transition of our soybean products to a seed go-to-market strategy," said CEO Jim Blome in a statement.

"We expect to continue selling grain in the fourth quarter, and the overall transition timeline remains on track."

Contact the author Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @UttaraProactive

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