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About Patents, Other Intellectual Property & Human Biotechnology

Human biotechnology is both constrained and catalyzed by intellectual property law, which regulates who can use certain information, ideas, and processes. Patents—one form of intellectual property—give the holder an exclusive right to produce and sell an invention.

While patents provide an incentive to inventors, they can also inhibit information flow. Their management has a tremendous impact on how biotechnologies are developed, and who benefits from them.

In the United States, the development of biotechnology has been dramatically influenced by two developments in 1980 that greatly increased the incentives for the commercialization of the life sciences. Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act, which reformed how inventions from federally-funded research are managed. The same year, the Supreme Court ruled in Diamond v. Chakrabarty that living things, including genes, could be patented.

Genes can’t be patented, rules Australia’s High Courtby Michael SlezakNew ScientistOctober 7th, 2015In what is considered a stronger decision than in US, Myriad's patent application for BRCA1 is denied in Australia because genes and mutations are "not 'made' by human action."
CRISPR-Cpf1: Hype by Association by Elliot HosmanOctober 2nd, 2015Amid Nobel Prize predictions for CRISPR-Cas9 research, a new CRISPR associated protein takes the media and science community by storm, even as its utility remains unclear.
Scientists Find Gene Editing with CRISPR Hard to Resist[quotes Marcy Darnovsky and Pete Shanks]by Cameron ScottHealthlineSeptember 29th, 2015CRISPR, a new technique for editing DNA, is so cheap and easy to use, we may be genetically engineering human embryos before we have time to decide if we should.
New CRISPR Protein Slices through Genomes, Patent Problemsby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewSeptember 25th, 2015With patent rights and Nobel Prize announcements pending, Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute reports new CRISPR gene editing enzyme Cpf1 to compete with the hyped CRISPR-Cas9 system.
What Will 120 Million CRISPR Dollars Buy?by Elliot HosmanBiopolitical TimesAugust 13th, 2015As Editas Medicine receives major injection of financing, how will the genetics boom impact funding for public health?
UC, MIT Battle Over Patent to Gene-Editing Toolby Lisa M. KriegerSan Jose Mercury NewsMay 9th, 2015UC Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna filed for a patent first. But in a shocking turn of events, MIT and Zhang won last month, earning the patent that covers use of CRISPR in every species except bacteria.
U.S. Proposes Effort to Analyze DNA from 1 Million Peopleby Toni Clarke and Sharon BegleyReutersJanuary 30th, 2015At the heart of the "precision medicine" initiative is the creation of a pool of people who would be studied to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease.
Stem Cell Clinics, FDA, and Giant, Unapproved For-Profit Human Experimentsby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogJanuary 27th, 2015The argument by for-profit clinics for stem cell deregulation and weakening of the FDA’s role in regulating stem cell products is a direct challenge to our system of science-based medicine.
Myriad Genetics Ending Patent Dispute on Breast Cancer Risk Testingby Andrew PollackThe New York TimesJanuary 27th, 2015The company has settled or is in the process of settling patent-infringement lawsuits it filed against other companies that now offer such testing.
Obama to Request Research Funding for Treatments Tailored to Patients’ DNAby Robert PearThe New York TimesJanuary 24th, 2015President Obama will seek hundreds of millions of dollars for a new initiative to develop medical treatments tailored to genetic and other characteristics of individual patients.
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