Startup aims to 'democratize' CRISPR gene-editing tech: 4 things to know

The biotech startup Inscripta is attempting to "democratize" CRISPR by offering it to select researchers at no cost, according to Fortune.

Here are four things to know about the startup's business model.

1. CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is a gene-editing technology that enables scientists to edit an organism's DNA. The CRISPR system allows scientists to add, replace or remove segments of genetic material within a living organism's genome.

2. While gene-editing holds immense potential to address a myriad of noteworthy issues, such as disease prevention, existing CRISPR technologies are caught in an intellectual property battle between researchers at Cambridge, Mass.-based Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and UC Berkeley, according to Fortune.

3. Inscripta, which is backed by the venture capital firm Venrock, aims to provide a CRISPR enzyme to select researchers at no cost. The CRISPR-Cas9 system — which creates modified RNA segments that bind to the CRISPR-associated protein 9 enzyme — is one of the most commonly used gene-editing systems today, however, Inscripta leverages a separate CRIPSR enzyme called MAD7.

"We want to liberate the research. We want to make it unencumbered, free," Inscripta CEO Kevin Ness told Fortune. "You can go right to the website, download the sequences instantly, even get a user guide."

4. Access to Inscripta's CRISPR technologies are free to many researchers, however, scientists or companies that are interested in re-selling the MAD7 enzyme or using it in their products would pay Inscripta a royalty fee.

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