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Patent Covers CRISPR

The Broad Institute has succeeded in getting the first patent for the hot new genome-editing technique.

By | April 17, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, JFANTASYThe popularity of the CRISPR/Cas9 approach to genomic editing has spread like wildfire, with labs around the world quickly adopting it for their research projects. But use of the system may get a bit more complicated, and perhaps lucrative, for certain groups. The Broad Institute announced this week (April 15) that it has been awarded the first CRISPR/Cas9 patent, based on the methods in a seminal 2013 paper in Science

The patented approach was pioneered by Feng Zhang at the Broad. Zhang has made a wealth of CRISPR-related technical resources available on his website. It’s not yet clear whether the patent will affect labs already using CRISPR/Cas9, or those who plan to use it in the future. “All of that is in the hands of MIT and the Broad,” Chelsea Loughran, an intellectual property litigation lawyer at Wolf Greenfield in Boston, told MIT Technology Review.

There are a number of other patents pending related to the use of CRISPR in genome editing.

In a press release, Eric Lander, the director of the Broad Institute, said: “Consistent with the Broad’s mission to accelerate the understanding and treatment of disease, we are committed to empowering the global research community by making this technology broadly available to scientists for research around the world.” Lita Nelsen, the director of the MIT Technology Licensing Office, told Tech Review that RNA interference (RNAi) is also patented by the organization, but that it is still widely used in basic research labs. According to Tech Review, however, “the Broad is keeping a tight lid on their plans for the patent.”

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Avatar of: Selc

Selc

Posts: 3

April 19, 2014

This is a tragedy.  The most promising gene therapy technology to come about this century, will now be burdened with dumb and wearisome decades filled with lawsuits, infighting, high-cost, "proprietary reagents" impossible to improve upon, and snail-pace innovation.   This is what happened to the first horseless carriages until many decades went by and the patents expired or were ignored...as well as with MRI/CT scan technology.  We should be getting SQUID MRI'd for occult malignancies at this point as we walk into the doctor office.  Instead we are stuck with overpriced 70's technology because of greed and short-sighted stupidity. Everyone suffers, including the supposed owners of the technology, in the long run. This is the first effective gene editing technology which has the potential to effect real cures for many diseases and conditions by fine editing of the genome without the random and unpredictable way a traditional viral-based vector gene therapy would. If the owners care about money so much, such a promising technology should be bought by the government for a few billion and made open source for rapid development. Nothing is going to accelerate now here excepting for the numbers in someone's bank account. A few decades from now we'll have a handful of overpriced treatments, poorly developed methods, and trade secrets and patent-thickets obscuring any hopes at effective uses or developments. A sad day for science and medicine.

Avatar of: GeoChurch

GeoChurch

Posts: 1

April 23, 2014

Not a tragedy. The alternatives to patents include: 1) companies avoiding spending millions to develop a drug only to be taken over by competitors unburdened by those R&D costs or 2) Trade secrets. Some patents, like those in next-generation sequencing (NGS) resulted in a 3-million-fold drop in costs in 8 years (not "overpriced" "wearisome decades"). The CRISPR reagents have been inexpensively available via the non-profit addgene.org from day one to encourage further innovation. Some of the same researchers involved in developing NGS are working to make this cost curve drop even faster than NGS did. Please join us!

Avatar of: John Salerno

John Salerno

Posts: 5

Replied to a comment from Selc made on April 19, 2014

September 17, 2014

So far it seems that the handling of the IP produced has been a model of openness and generosity. I hope that the inventors do get to shaer in some of the wealth produced by their inventions; why should all rewards go to people who already have too much money? I hope that the Broad Institute and MIT get some of the rewards as well, and plow it back into new discoveries. The alternatiove is the enrichment of only venture capitalists. 

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