Largest Biotech Patent Case in History Will Determine CRISPR-Owner

CRISPR-Cas9, the widely hailed genome-editing tool is under scrutiny, not for the possible ethical ramifications of CRISPR being employed as a human genome alteration tool, but rather for who should own the foundational and lucrative patent rights: the University of California, Berkeley, or the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. This case is currently in dispute at the U.S. Patent Office in Alexandria, Virginia.

Jennifer Doudna, Berkeley (CRISPR-Cas9 technology pioneer) quote: “CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology is the result of a fundamental, curiosity-driven science project that came about through our want to understand exactly how bacteria fight viral infection. About 10 years ago, I was asked by my UC-Berkeley colleague Jillian Banfield to look into a genetic peculiarity of bacteria and became intrigued with this rather obscure work. By partnering with Emmanuelle Charpentier, we realized that the bacterial cellular defense system could be used as a tool to edit genomes, not just kill viruses.”

Should the winner-take-all patent be assigned to Berkeley based on the Doudna and Charpentier work, which described the CRISPR system in its fundamental form and its function in bacteria, or should it be granted to the Broad Institute that demonstrated applicability and use in higher organisms like humans, plants, and animals? The outcome will be, without a doubt, highly significant as one of the parties will go home empty-handed. Both sides have already entered extensive commercial agreements with biomedical startups and agricultural companies like DuPont and Monsanto.

Jennifer Doudna quote: “After developing the CRISPR-Cas9 editing tools, I led its use in a broad range of applications.”

The power and versatility of CRISPR undoubtedly has the potential to positively impact healthcare and precision medicine. The technology is already taking drug discovery and development to the next level and opening up new and wide-ranging possibilities to treat and cure diseases. In cancer, scientists are attempting to harness CRISPR to edit a patient’s T-cells (immune cells) so that they have the necessary capabilities to target a particular type of tumor. For non-human applications, researchers are applying CRISPR technology to engineer more robust crops, protect trees from bark beetles, create sustainable biofuels, and explore the possibilities of “gene drives” to control mosquito populations and reduce their ability to spread Zika virus and malaria.

Dr. Jennifer Doudna, who pioneered the work of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology, is the recipient of the PMWC 2017 Luminary Award. In an interview published earlier this week on PMWC Intl. she discusses her active involvement, research applications, and what to expect from this powerful technology. Dr. Doudna will explore these topics in depth during her presentation at PMWC 2017 Silicon Valley.

Join us and meet Dr. Doudna and 250+ speakers at PMWC 2017 Silicon Valley featuring 60+ sessions focusing on diagnostics and therapeutics, immunotherapy, mHealth, patient advocacy, new innovations and technologies, government initiatives, and of course the much discussed and debated CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing tool.

Find detailed session and speaker list here.

Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

PMWC 2017 Silicon Valley Talk: Jennifer Doudna – Facile genome manipulation using precision DNA recognition is transforming biology. I will discuss how the bacterial CRISPR adaptive immune system was harnessed as a powerful genome engineering tool, enabling remarkable developments using this technology to modify, regulate or visualize genes in a wide variety of cells and organisms.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]