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Universities could do more to ensure CRISPR gene editing tools are widely available to researchers, a Nature editorial argues.

It notes that Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands announced earlier this week that it would be providing free licenses to non-profit organizations wanting to apply its CRISPR gene-editing approach to plants for non-commercial applications. Nature adds that other research institutions that hold CRISPR-related patents like the Broad Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, allow their CRISPR tools and IP to be freely used by non-profits, but it says they and others could also make CRISPR tools better accessible to researchers.

As most CRISPR patents held by universities or other publicly funded research institutes, Nature argues they "are in a strong position to influence change."

"The time has come for all universities that hold CRISPR patents, along with public funders and international institutions such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, to consider how they might join forces so that IP on CRISPR can be more easily accessed free of charge for research, under clear and transparent rules," Nature writes.