CRISPR patent dispute not over yet as Emmanuelle Charpentier, universities appeal

Nobel Prize winner Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., and two universities have officially appealed in a dispute over certain patents for CRISPR gene editing, a long-running challenge that could have wide implications for companies working on therapeutics based on the technology.

Charpentier, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Vienna have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to review a decision from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which ruled in favor of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Essentially, the patent office decided that Broad was the first group to invent CRISPR/Cas9 for editing a certain type of human cell that can be used to make medicines.

Charpentier and fellow Nobel laureate Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., were the inventors of a type of scissors that can cut any DNA molecule, leading to a breakthrough in gene editing that is now being used by several companies to create new treatments.

With the patent office decision in force, intellectual property from companies such as Intellia, CRISPR Tx, ERS Genomics and Caribou Biosciences may be in jeopardy. The decision also could mean millions in dollars in royalties for the group that ultimately holds the patents.

UC Berkeley had vowed to fight on in the long-running dispute when the patent office made its decision in February.