Biotech Start-Up Democratizes CRISPR with Free-Access to Enzyme
A biotech firm based in Boulder, CO is providing free access to MAD7 a novel enzyme in the gene-editing field.
Inscripta, a gene-editing technology company with a mission to create the tools needed to ‘revolutionize how we feed, fuel and heal humanity’ announced on Wednesday the release of CRISPR enzyme MAD7, which will be made free to public and private researchers for research and development purposes.
“We want to liberate the research. We want to make it unencumbered, free,” Inscripta CEO Kevin Ness tells Fortune. “You can go right to the website, download the sequences instantly, even get a user guide,” says Ness.
For commercial pursuits such as resale or manufacturing, Inscripta will charge a small royalty fee.
CRISPR, an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, are repeated patterns found in bacterial DNA. Researchers have harnessed certain CRISPR enzymes to rapidly cut DNA and so more easily edit genetic code. CRISPR has multiple applications – and in the last year has been used to make low-fat piglets, to increase crop yield, and has shown potential in finding treatments for disorders like sickle-cell disease, retinal diseases, and muscular dystrophy.
MAD7 is the first launched from a family of enzymes called ‘MADzymes’ that Inscripta have developed. These differ to the more commonly used Cpf1 and Cas9 varieties.
Cas9 was famously at the heart of the intellectual property showdown between Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and academic partners Jennifer Doudna at U.C Berkeley and Emmanuelle Charpentier at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology. Inscripta want to take IP out of the equation by offering their enzyme freely.
Ness hinted that Wednesday’s announcement was the first of many.
“CRISPR is one of the most exciting breakthroughs of this century,” he said. “New cures for diseases, more pest-resilient crops, more ways to adapt to climate change — there’s a ton of work to do to use this technology to truly benefit society in the many ways it can.