JAN 24, 2017 4:06 AM PST

The Legal Debate Over CRISPR Technology


One of the hottest developments in recent years has been the CRISPR gene editing process. CRISPR stands for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats" and it's a way to delete or insert certain genes, or even chemically repair DNA. It's possible applications are arguably endless and there's a lot of current research happening in chemistry departments all over the world. But there's one factor some might be missing, and that is the legal side of CRISPR

Since the technology has so much potential, whoever owns the rights to the process will likely have a billion dollar asset in their pocket. The US Patent Office is currently conducting hearings on a dispute between the University of California and the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT. Two biochemists at UC Berkeley filed a patent for the process in 2012 and published their work showcasing their process. Feng Zhang from the Broad Institute was also working on CRISPR and filed a patent after the Berkeley team but he paid to have the US Patent Office expedite his review (which is legal) and thus was issued the first CRISPR patent. The debate has become about the definition of CRISPR. The Patent office has said it's specific to eukaryotes, cells in plants animals and humans animals, which Zhang's work involved. The Berkeley team's work involved prokaryotes, which are only in bacteria and do not have the potential applications that eukaryotes do. The debate between the two uses of CRISPR could shape the future of the technology. A patent dispute of this magnitude is likely to affect research globally.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
NOV 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
NOV 06, 2020
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
Researchers have found that there could be at least 300 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy. This could mea ...
DEC 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
3M Helps Solve Polar Bear Tracking Problem
DEC 10, 2020
3M Helps Solve Polar Bear Tracking Problem
As climate change continues to alter the Arctic landscape, polar bear research becomes more urgent. Observing animals in ...
DEC 28, 2020
Space & Astronomy
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
DEC 28, 2020
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
China has recovered the first new moon rock samples in decades, and from a previously unexplored part of the moon. Now w ...
MAR 03, 2021
Plants & Animals
Can Arctic Bearded Seals Compete with Human Noise?
MAR 03, 2021
Can Arctic Bearded Seals Compete with Human Noise?
Vocal communication is a primary key to survival for many species, including the Arctic Ocean's bearded seals. Accor ...
MAR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
MAR 09, 2021
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
Some of the most interesting—and possibly strangest—scientific discoveries happen by accident. According to ...
JUL 13, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Artificial Lighting Disrupts Pollinating Insects' Vision
JUL 13, 2021
Artificial Lighting Disrupts Pollinating Insects' Vision
Artificial lighting can affect the eyesight of moths that rely on night-time vision, such as the elephant hawkmoth. The ...
Loading Comments...