Patent fight around CRISPR technologies

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There is a big fight around CRISPR technologies, especially because there is a researchers fight regarding who was the first to invent it (which was important for the US patent office until 2013). Today, the only parameter is who files the invention first. Moreover, in Europe, the rulings are the opposite than the rulings in the US because of some paperwork issues when filing the patents (they removed one of the co-applicants without his explicit permission to do so.)

Even if the decision stands, it could be some time before the Broad stands to earn much in royalties. No human therapy based on CRISPR has yet been approved, although several are working their way through the pipeline. On 28 February, Intellia Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced that its experimental CRISPR–Cas9 treatment for a rare condition called transthyretin amyloidosis reduced production of an errant protein by up to 93%, with effects lingering for at least a year. And by the end of 2022, a team of two companies — CRISPR Therapeutics, of Cambridge and Zug, Switzerland, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals of Boston, Massachusetts — plans to file for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its experimental sickle-cell disease treatment based on CRISPR–Cas9. Both of these teams licensed patents from CVC, rather than the Broad. That means they might eventually need to come to an agreement with the latter team, which could be entitled to a portion of any profits from the treatments.

It may even be that the original patents, covering CRISPR-Cas9 do not generate revenue after all:

Relatively few of these use CRISPR–Cas9, he says; instead, they use alternative enzymes such as Cas13 or Cas14, which is remarkably small and easy to transport into human cells. Labs have also engineered new CRISPR-associated enzymes, such as base editors, that are better able to make specific edits. Patent filings on base editors are doubling every year, Palazzoli says, and now exceed 730.


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Aquiles Carattino
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