CRISPR-Cas is a technology whereby genetic material can be modified in a relatively simple, highly accurate and effective manner. There are about 3,000 CRISPR-Cas patents worldwide, of which WUR owns a few. WUR has decided to make free licenses available for five of these patents, which are jointly owned by WUR and NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research).
a. Fresh: This is really unique to CRISPR, both within academia and beyond. As far as we know, we are among the first to take this step with regard to CRISPR technology. We do this because we firmly believe that it is the right thing to do.
Two billion people suffered from a lack of healthy food in 2020. Almost all of these people are also threatened by the effects of climate change. So we must move toward a healthier, more sustainable, fairer, more affordable, and more robust diet. This will also be the focus of the United Nations Food Systems Summit on 23 September. CRISPR and other life sciences can accelerate this transformation.
Furthermore, our initiative fits perfectly with WUR’s mission: To explore nature’s potential to improve quality of life. CRISPR, a bacterial defense system is a great example. The WUR team led by Professor van der Ost has been working on this since 2006.
microbiology Prof. Dr. John van der Ost He is one of the world’s leading experts in CRISPR-Cas technology. He is often seen as one of the founders of technology. Licenses are released on his own initiative. Van der Ost: “The capabilities of CRISPR-Cas cannot be stressed enough. It is a very flexible technology that allows the development of new and sustainable ways to feed a growing global population. We are pleased to share our knowledge for this purpose, and hope that more patent holders will follow suit.”
Dr. Mohamed Hassan Hassan, President Van Di Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) and Chairman of the Board United Nations Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries (United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries) welcomes Wageningen University & Research’s decision: “ Making these licenses available offers quick solutions to a number of pressing problems in the world: the growing need for food, the impact of climate change and pathogens. I expect that non-profit organizations and agricultural and food research institutes in poor countries will benefit from this. These institutions are necessary to develop crops optimized for human and animal consumption for local farmers and poor consumers. Without this WUR initiative they would not have been able to obtain these licenses.
“CRISPR technology can only be fully exploited through long-term partnerships and capacity building,” says Professor Fresco. We would like to learn from CRISPR’s future partners and build on their knowledge. Together we can change the way we approach food security in the world. This is why we support our decision to make this knowledge freely available in the context of the open science movement: making what has been developed with public funds publicly available.
Marcel Levy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Scientific Research Organization (NWO): “It is great to see where research can lead. As NWO, we have been involved in developing this revolutionary application of biotechnology since 2009 and as a joint patent holder makes us feel a little proud today. “As a strong supporter of Open Science, we are very pleased to make the licenses available to contribute to a better world. Knowledge developed with public money returns to society in this way. Thus science contributes to solving one of the major issues of our time.”
This initiative was announced during the opening of the school year, and its theme was “Crossing the Border”. In pre-opening interviews, Professor Fresco insisted More coincidences and failures in science: I can see that we will bring together groups of promising scientists without direct assignment of research. Then the wildest ideas are allowed, as well as ingenious failures. Accidental finds – of which CRISPR-Cas is an example – are only visible when seen. We must dare to see reality in different ways. Source WUR
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