CRISPR Patents: The Battle

Much has been written about the power of CRISPR, biologically the adaptive immune system of bacteria but widely use as the next generation technology for genome editing in every single organism, from bacteria to humans. But there has also been extensive interest in the variety of intellectual property issues surrounding CRISPR, including a heated patent dispute between two of the technology’s originators, in one side Jennifer Doudna (UC Berkeley) and Emmanuelle Charpentier (Max-Planck),  and in the other side Feng Zhang (Broad Institute).

Doudna and Charpentier first filed their fundamental patent application covering CRISPR-Cas9 on May 25, 2012, covering over 150 claims but was notably unspecific with respect to cell type applications. Nonetheless, Doudna and Charpentier’s patent attorneys pegged their clients’ invention broadly, as the use of a single-guide RNA to mediate the editing of genomic DNA. It was the ease, flexibility, and precision of this advance that has largely thrust CRISPR into the lay lexicon.

During the pendency of Doudna and Charpentier’s application in the USA, Zhang also filed a U.S. patent application—directed specifically to eukaryotic applications of CRISPR-Cas9.The principal improvement of Zhang’s methods over his predecessors was the use of a nuclear localization signal and, separately, codon optimization to natively express Cas9. But Zhang’s attorneys fast tracked his application through the U.S.P.T.O., a relatively expensive and strategically risky process. As a consequence, Zhang’s patent was issued first in the USA even that was the last presented.That quandary gave rise to the now-famous patent dispute in the USA, the first round of which was won by Zhang. The remainder of it is still being appealed and a decision is expected in late 2018.

You can find the whole article wrote by Jacob S Sherkow in the next link:

3 thoughts on “CRISPR Patents: The Battle”

  1. Not only this can be a local phenomenon, globally,
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    • The existence of certain patents and even more, the legal battles to have the rights of a patent is clearly a problem for the development of the technology. The scientific community is aware of this and we all hope that these issues do not stop the promising application of CRISPR to enhance human health.
      By the way, the best alternative is to develop CRISPR technology based on other Cas9 nuclease, and not based on Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpyCas9) that is the one protected through this patent. Many scientists are developing new tools based on other nucleases like new Cas9 from other bacteria, other nucleases like Cpf1, to avoid the patent rights.

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