On Feb. 15, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled on a patent dispute concerning CRISPR, a technology that can edit genomes. CRISPR, based on a component of bacterial immune systems that protects against foreign DNA, holds the potential to treat genetic disorders by replacing or removing the disease-causing gene. The patent dispute was between the University of California, Berkeley and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. California researchers were first to file CRISPR applications, but the Broad Institute was awarded its patents first. The ruling states that the competing patents, which describe CRISPR in different biological systems, do not interfere and that the Broad Institute’s patents stand.
U biochemist Dana Carroll testified in the dispute on behalf of the University of California. He is available to comment on the details of the competing arguments and the implications of the ruling.