Sunday, April 29, 2018

CBS "60 Minutes" tilts toward MIT/Broad in CRISPR "discovery" saga in piece broadcast on 29 April 2018

IPBiz has covered the CRISPR "priority of discovery" issue for some time [ e.g., CRISPR is high profile in science, patents; competitor labeled a mere second comer ]

From the outset of the 29 April 2018 piece on CBS "60 Minutes", one got the impression that Bill Whitaker of "60 Minutes" tilted toward MIT/Broad in the CRISPR discovery dispute:

At 36, he's [Feng Zhang ] already a tenured professor at MIT and a scientific celebrity because he figured out a way to override human genetic instructions using CRISPR.


For the last seven years, Zhang has been working on CRISPR at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It's a research mecca brimming with some of the brightest scientific minds from Harvard and MIT on a mission to fight disease. CRISPR is making medical research faster, cheaper, easier. Zhang's colleagues predict it will help them tackle diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's.

Work of Shoukhrat Mitalipov at the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy at the Oregon Health and Science University was mentioned.

UC/Berkeley does get a mention:

If CRISPR is used to treat disease or make a drug it could mean big bucks. The Broad and Feng Zhang hold a primary patent for CRISPR's use in human cells in the U.S. but no technology is developed in a vacuum. Biochemist Jennifer Dounda [sic: Doudna] at the University of California, Berkeley and her team made landmark CRISPR discoveries.

This week, they are challenging Zhang and the Broad in court for the rights arguing in part that Zhang's advance was derived from her team's breakthrough. It's a high stakes battle. CRISPR is projected to be a multi-billion dollar market in a decade.

Yes. The CBS transcript does misspell Doudna's last name! [see Jennifer A. Doudna ]

link to CBS transcript: CRISPR: The gene-editing tool revolutionizing biomedical research

As to CBS saying -- This week, they are challenging Zhang and the Broad in court --, what is going on on Monday, April 30 is oral argument at the CAFC of UC/Berkeley's appeal of an adverse Board decision of no "interference in fact."
See STAT All you need to know for round 2 of the CRISPR patent fight .

The STAT story is of interest for suggesting that the outcome will be determined by "which" judges comprise the panel of three at the CAFC:

If one is Judge Raymond Chen, the Broad likely has one sure vote: He worked at the patent office for 15 years and is regarded as deferential to it — that is, unlikely to overturn its pro-Broad decision. Advantage: Editas (EDIT), co-founded by Zhang and exclusive licensee of the Broad’s patents for human therapeutic use. If it’s judges Alan Lourie, who spent decades as a corporate patent lawyer, or Timothy Dyk, also an ex-corporate guy and patent expert, that might be good for UC and therefore Intellia (NTLA), co-founded by Doudna and exclusive licensee of her (yet-to-be-issued) CRISPR patents.

Going back to the Board decision, which relied heavily on statements by Doudna and co-workers on the difficulty of going from prokaryotic systems to eukaryotic systems, one suspects that the CAFC decision will convey an important message to inventors and patent prosecutors about statements of "next steps."

As to STAT on the role of Mr. Verrilli in the Myriad Genetics case [got SCOTUS to invalidate patents on human genes ] :

Argued. For petitioners: Christopher A. Hansen, New York, N. Y. For United States, as amicus curiae: Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, Department of Justice, Washington, D. C. For respondents: Gregory A Castanias, Washington, D. C.

Chemical and Engineering News wrote:

Representing the Justice Department, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices that Myriad isn’t entitled to a patent on isolated DNA “because it is simply native DNA extracted from the body.” But Verrilli added that Myriad’s lab-created synthetic molecules might be patent-eligible, noting that they “don’t correspond to anything in the body.”

Justices including Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy seemed receptive to the middle-ground position suggested by Verrilli. Complementary DNA “is not a product of nature,” Sotomayor said. “It’s a product of human innovation.”

A key part of the Supreme Court decision: "A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated, but cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring


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