Crispr licence agreements open up opportunities in drug discovery

The gene editing technology Crispr–Cas9 is set for a commercial boost after two major healthcare companies secured licences to develop it.

Arriving on the genetics scene back in 2012, Crispr–Cas9 is a tool that allows researchers to cut and replace single genes in mammalian cells. The technique has been lauded for its potential in curing any number of genetic diseases. But it could also help cut down high organ donor shortages and offer a new route to drug discovery.

Seizing on this potential, the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer has entered into a joint venture with Cripsr Therapeutics. Operating under the name Casebia Therapeutics, the start-up has obtained a licence to develop Crispr as a means to cure blood disorders and congenital heart disease.

Albany Molecular Research (AMRI), US, has also obtained a licence for the fledgling tech, but it will be taking a different approach to Bayer. The company intend to use the Crispr–Cas9 system to investigate in vitro disease models and assess drug targets.

Earlier this year, the Broad Institute, which holds a number of key Crispr patents, reiterated that the gene editing tool is open for use in academia and industry.