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WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors have charged a San Diego couple with stealing trade secrets from an American children’s hospital, only then to allegedly use the information to market their Chinese biotechnology company.

Yu Zhou, 49, and his wife, Li Chen, 46, worked for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, until just under two years ago, prosecutors said Monday. The couple worked at the hospital in separate research labs for a decade, and founded a biotech company in China in 2015 that relied on many of the same technological and scientific advances.


The research largely focused on exosomes — small, bubble-like groups of molecules released by cells and increasingly used by biotechnology companies as a method of drug delivery.

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