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Patent for Editing

The Broad Institute was awarded a patent last week covering its engineered CRISPR-Cas9 system, a press release from the institute says.

According to US Patent No. 8,697,359, the "invention provides for systems, methods, and compositions for altering expression of target gene sequences and related gene products." It also mentions how the tool could be used to treat a number of diseases.

“The CRISPR-Cas9 system is an extraordinary, powerful tool," Eric Lander, the director of the Broad, says in a statement. "The ability to edit a genome makes it possible to discover the biological mechanisms underlying human biology and, potentially, to treat certain human diseases."

The researcher listed on the patent is Feng Zhang, a core member of the Broad and co-founder of Editas Medicine, notes MIT's Technology Review.

Lander adds that the Broad will make the technology available to researchers around the world.

Still, Chelsea Loughran, an intellectual property litigation lawyer, tells Tech Review how this will affect people already using CRISPR is unclear. A Broad spokesperson echoed Lander's remark that the tool would be widely available, though said that specific licensing details weren't available.