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Disputed Crispr patents

On February 28, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) decided that patents related to use of CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the genes of plant and animal cells (eukaryotes) belong to the Broad Institute, linked to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The new ruling seeks to put an end to a years-long dispute with the Broad team on one side and a group from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Vienna, Austria, on the other, where American biochemist Jennifer Doudna and French geneticist Emmanuele Charpentier (now at the Max Planck Institute in Germany) worked, respectively. In March 2012, Doudna and Charpentier presented the theory that an enzyme (Cas9) could be guided by a single strand of RNA to edit the DNA of cells, for which they won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. But it was Feng Zhang, a biochemist from the Broad Institute, who first demonstrated that the technique worked in mammalian cells in October of that year. At the time, the USPTO considered the inventor as the person who came up with the approach and proved that it was possible to put into practice (Science, March 1; Nature Biotechnology, March 14).