Uncertainty about CRISPR's future

Cas9 on a DNA helix

Some feared, that the patent decisions on the CRISPR technology this spring might lead to a monopolization of the technology. However, according to a last month's article in Nature Methods, it is not at all clear at this moment, whether CRISPR will hit a home run for the editing of the human genome. If a single editing event is accompanied by hundreds of unwanted and unpredictable genomic changes, it would be difficult to argue in favor of it due to the unpredictability of the side effects. This is just a single study in mice, but caution is warranted. The Nature Methods article is especially interesting, since the technology just had been used in humans for the first time.
Even if the intellectual property is held by a single company, it is unclear, how a patent could be enforced. CRISPR differs from many other technologies by having a very low entry barrier in terms of cost and know-how. Almost every life science researcher could do it at home in their garages...


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