Oxford Synbio Startup with Eyes on Therapeutics gets hold of CRISPR

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Synbio startup Oxford Genetics has licensed CRISPR from Emmanuelle Charpentier’s company, ERS Genomics, to boost its platform.

Synthetic biology has so far remained on the fringe of biotech, but one company, Oxford Genetics, is demonstrating its use in therapeutics. To bolster its efforts, the startup has secured a nonexclusive license from ERS Genomics, which represents Emmanuelle Charpentier’s industrial stake in CRISPR, to use her gene editing technology.

While the US Patent and Trademark Office decided the intellectual property for the technique belongs to Feng Zhang, its European counterpart ruled in favour of Charpentier earlier this year. Oxford Genetics will apply CRISPR to its genome engineering services, cell lines and gene therapy viral vectors, as well as in the production of therapeutics towards which the company is ultimately working.

“People who work in the area think of synbio as making things in algae, or making new genetic circuits etc, but don’t necessarily see consequences for human health,” CEO and founder Ryan Cawood told me at Synbiobeta last month.  “The field has a huge role to play in tying the genetics of an individual human to a therapeutic treatment based on DNA. At the moment, there is no such pairing — we’re a long way from that, but with synbio we’ll get there.”

Image from Double Brain / shutterstock.com

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