CRISPR gene editing is widely regarded as one of the most significant advances in the life sciences in decades. The technology, which allows scientists to slice and dice bits of genetic code with the help of special CRISPR enzymes, has implications in everything from curing devastating diseases to making pigs less fatty to creating bigger, tastier, genetically modified tomatoes.
But existing CRISPR technologies are so red-hot that they’ve prompted an epic intellectual property showdown between the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University’s Feng Zhang and U.C. Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and her academic partner Emmanuelle Charpentier (and the warring factions’ various affiliated biotechs). Well, Inscripta, a startup backed by Venrock, wants to take the IP considerations out of the equation by providing a new kind of CRISPR enzyme to (most) scientists at no cost.
“We want to liberate the research. We want to make it unencumbered, free,” Inscripta CEO Kevin Ness tells Fortune. Inscripta has a different CRISPR enzyme from the Cas9 and Cpf1 varieties most commonly being experimented with today. Called “MAD7,” the enzyme is available for free to scientists innovating in the space.
Ness sees the democratic approach as key to further unlocking CRISPR’s potential. “You can’t build a house without a hammer,” he says.
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