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It has taken nearly six years, detours for bitter legal challenges, and tens of millions of dollars in legal fees, but the foundational CRISPR-Cas9 patent for which the University of California applied in March 2013 will soon be granted, according to documents posted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Friday, throwing yet another monkey wrench into genome editing’s tangled IP landscape.

Based on the pioneering research of UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier (of Sweden’s Umea University at the time of the key study), and their colleagues, the ‘859 patent, as aficionados fondly call it, covers the use of CRISPR, in particular a single molecule of RNA acting as a genome-sniffing bloodhound, paired with the Cas9 DNA-cutting enzyme to edit genomes. The patent office’s “notice of allowance” means that the patent will be issued in about six to eight weeks.

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  • This is like patenting the discovery of penicillin. It would set humanity back. Tell her thank you. Build her a monument. And envite her to all the parties. Now, let those with the imagination and knowledge to build our tomorrow.

    • No, it’s not. It is the invention of a new and useful technology. Without the patent system, who would fund making these inventions? Basically, you are proposing that we do not have such inventions. That was the viewpoint of the Luddites, who wanted to live in the world of the past without new inventions.

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