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Broad Institute Licenses CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing Technology To Biotech Firm Transposagen

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Broad Institute licensed Kentucky-based biotech firm Transposagen the CRISPR/Cas9 intellectual property. The non-exclusive license deal allows Transposagen to fuse the CRISPR/Cas9 technology into their current gene editing tools.

Broad Institute also licensed the CRISPR/Cas9 to other firm including GE Healthcare, Horizon Discovery and Sigma-Aldrich. In a statement, Transposagen CEO John Printen said integrating the CRISPR/Cas9 with their Footprint-Free Gene Editing System would give the research team "unprecedented ability" for precise gene editing without fear of missed target effects.

"Transposagen is pleased to be able to provide innovative tools and services using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology," added Printen.

The CRISPR/Cas9 technology will improve Transposagen's ability to produce more precise diseases models for the scientific and medical community.

The CRISPR/Cas9 is likened to a word processing software where scientists can "cut and paste" or "find and replace" mutated genes that cause many diseases. In the UK, scientists created a new breed of pigs immune to a porcine syndrome called porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv). Another UK-based firm was able to genetically alter malaria-causing mosquitoes that could lead to the insect population's dramatic decline.

The CRISPR/Cas9 technology is less expensive compared to other gene editing techniques. Moreover, CRISPR/Cas9 guarantees that the newly modified or created traits can be passed on to the next generation or spread fast in the population.

These are just some of what the CRISPR/Cas9 technology is capable of doing. It also has its share of supporters and critics. The US-based Center for Genetics and Society along with Friends of the Earth activists believe that gene editing of this magnitude should be nipped in the bud.

While CRISPR/Cas9 has the power to advance the scientific and medical communities, it also carries societal temptations. Commercially used, rich parents could "request" for specific genetic additions such as athletic or academic prowess for their children. Since edited traits are transmissible, gene editing's effects to the future, unborn generations have yet to be discovered.

"Once the process begins, there will be no going back. This is a line we must not cross," said consulting researcher Pete Shanks from the Center for Genetics and Society who penned a report calling for the global ban of CRISPR/Cas9.

Photo: Jim Champion | Flickr

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