University of California to receive CRISPR patent

The University of California soon will be granted what may be a valuable patent on the gene-editing tool called CRISPR, according to Reuters.  

CRISPR works by cutting away unwanted pieces of genetic material and replacing them with new ones. It has quickly become a preferred gene-editing technique in research labs since it is easier to use than previous methods.

CRISPR patent rights may be worth billions of dollars one day since the technology could be used to transform disease treatment, crop engineering and other areas.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's decision to grant the patent to the University of California could fuel a rivalry between the university and the Broad Institute, according to Reuters.

The Broad Institute, a biological and genomic research center affiliated with Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, also holds patents on CRISPR.

The notice of allowance to the University of California from the Patent and Trademark Office means the patent will likely be issued within eight weeks, but it still may face challenges in court proceedings once it is issued, according to Reuters.

"The issued patent will encompass the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in any cellular or noncellular environment," said Eldora Ellison, lead patent strategist on CRISPR matters for the University of California.

The new patent decision "does not affect the CRISPR patent estate held by Broad, MIT and Harvard in any way," a Broad Institute spokesperson told Reuters.

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