The trial that will determine our genetic future

US Patent and Trademark OfficeAlan Kotok

❝ Arguments in a trial to determine ownership of CRISPR, a gene editing technology, started Tuesday the 6th in Virginia. The outcome will determine who gets ownership of an incredibly lucrative and incredibly powerful tool that has the potential to “treat” genetic disease.

Two groups are contending for the editing technology patent: on one side is MIT’s Broad Institute and Harvard University, and on the other is the University of California, Berkeley…

❝ Billions of future revenue is at stake in the trial in the US Patent and Trademark Office — essentially a patent court — in Alexandria, Virginia. CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology could be used to genetically modify crops, animals and even fetuses, scientists promise. Previous gene-editing tools have already existed, but none appear to work as quickly or promise such versatility as CRISPR.

And based on the advances so far, CRISPR’s potential is mind-blowing. It could be used to change crop strands to be drought-resistant, or to change disease-carrying parasites to stop the spread of illnesses like malaria. And scientists are hoping it will be able to eliminate genetic disease like cystic fibrosis.

Ethical questions are inevitable – as are the number of scientifically-unqualified “experts and consultants” who will offer their expertise in the years to come. Legitimate science will be represented in the overall discussion by the broad range of researchers from academia to the narrowest of corporate purveyors.

RTFA to get up to speed. The discussion is getting underway.

2 thoughts on “The trial that will determine our genetic future

  1. Verdict says:

    The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a key verdict this week in the battle over the intellectual property rights to the potentially lucrative gene-editing technique CRISPR–Cas9.
    It ruled that the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Cambridge could keep its patents on using CRISPR–Cas9 in eukaryotic cells. That was a blow to the University of California, Berkeley, which had filed its own patents and had hoped to have the Broad’s thrown out.
    “Why the CRISPR patent verdict isn’t the end of the story” (Nature)

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