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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.



Hacking CRISPR: Patents, Gene Therapy & Embryosby Elliot HosmanMay 5th, 2016As gene editing experiments on human embryos spread, piecemeal hacks of CRISPR are outpacing discussions of the futures it might enable.
With CRISPR in Humans On the Horizon, Will the Public Back Intellia?by Alex LashXconomyApril 29th, 2016Intellia and Editas both lack what so many biotech investors crave: data from human clinical trials. As they race to the clinic, it's hard to tell if either company will pay off.
A Single $249 Test Analyzes 30 Cancer Genes. But Do You Need It?by Sarah ZhangWIREDApril 28th, 2016Color Genomics is marketing gene tests for 30 cancers, but doctors caution that our ability to sequence DNA has far outpaced our ability to understand what the results mean.
A DNA Sequencer in Every Pocketby Ed YongThe AtlanticApril 28th, 2016Oxford Nanopore Technologies, which severed financial ties with DNA sequencing monolith Illumina in 2013, is "desperately thinking of ways of bringing them down.” These include a USB-powered sequencer called the MinION.
Scientists solve CRISPR’s ‘Energizer bunny’ problemby Sharon BegleySTATApril 27th, 2016A new CRISPR system called "CORRECT" stopped Cas9 from cutting again and again, and allowed researchers to edit one but not both copies of a target gene.
Meet The New CEO Of The $22 Billion Genomics Company You've Never Heard Ofby Christine FarrFast CompanyApril 27th, 2016Gene-sequencing giant Illumina is expanding to direct-to-consumer tests and perhaps brand partnerships, says new CEO Francis deSouza.
Why Does Silicon Valley Want to Get So Many Women Pregnant?by Sarah EmersonMotherboard [VICE]April 22nd, 2016Women’s fertility apps have found a profitable niche in the predominantly male tech scene. The tech industry hopes they’ll deliver a lot of valuable private information.
Eric Lander talks CRISPR and the infamous Nobel ‘rule of three’by Joel AchenbachThe Washington PostApril 21st, 2016Lander urged scientific modesty about new gene editing tools: “We are terrible predictors of the consequences of the changes we make.”
Scientists unveil the ‘most clever CRISPR gadget’ so farby Sharon BegleySTATApril 20th, 2016A new "base editing" method attempts to switch out individual letters of DNA, but its usefulness and precision are unclear.
Gene-edited CRISPR mushroom escapes US regulationby Emily WaltzNatureApril 14th, 2016A mushroom has become the first CRISPR-edited organism to attain approval for sale without USDA regulation.
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