CRISPR founder fighting for patent rights to gene-editing tool

Will the University of California reap the financial rewards of CRISPR’s commercial use, likely worth billions of dollars? That’s the source of a bitter fight.

In June 2012, UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, now a professor in Germany, showed how bacteria’s natural defense system could be turned into a “gene editing” tool to cut DNA strands.

Seven months later, Feng Zhang of the Massachsuetts Institute of Technology, along with Harvard’s George Church, showed that the tool also works in human cells.

UC and Doudna filed for a patent first. But in a shocking turn of events, MIT and Zhang won last month, earning the patent that covers use of CRISPR in every species except bacteria, including humans.

MIT paid extra to expedite Zhang’s patent application. MIT and Zhang also assert that the patent belongs to them because Doudna didn’t prove it works in human cells, only bacterial cells.

Zhang also submitted photos of lab notebooks showing his lab work was ahead of Doudna’s.

UC and Doudna are fighting back, submitting thousands of pages of documentation to support their claim that they had the invention first. They are supported by a pioneer in gene editing, University of Utah’s Dana Carroll, who said Doudna’s report of her discovery was so detailed he could use it to work in human cells.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: UC? MIT battle over patent to gene-editing tool

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