|February 15, 2017|
The US patent office ruled on Wednesday that hotly disputed patents on the revolutionary genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 belong to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, dealing a blow to the University of California in its efforts to overturn those patents.
In a one-sentence decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board that the University of California shared with STAT, the three judges decided that there is “no interference in fact.” In other words, key CRISPR patents awarded to the Broad beginning in 2014 are sufficiently different from patents applied for by UC that they can stand.
The ruling means that, in the eyes of the patent office, breakthrough work by UC biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues on CRISPR — an ancient bacterial immune system that they repurposed to easily and precisely edit DNA — was not so all-encompassing as to make later advances “obvious.” That is at odds with how much of the science world has viewed their work. Doudna and her chief collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in the life sciences in 2015, the $500,000 Gruber Genetics Prize in 2015, and the $450,000 Japan Prize in 2017.
Image: By Cas9 wiki project – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37270544