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Another showdown in the seemingly endless patent battle over who invented CRISPR, the genome editor that has revolutionized biology, took place today at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This latest hearing saw charges that one party improperly obtained early CRISPR information, as well as a detailed scientific discussion of a crucial question: Who invented the “guide RNA” molecule that allows the genome editor to work in eukaryotic cells?

On that question, “we have never received a satisfactory answer from the patent office,” says Jacob Sherkow, a patent attorney with the University of Illinois College of Law and a longtime observer of the fight. Potentially huge financial rewards go to the victor, as multiple companies have invested many millions into turning CRISPR into medical therapies.

One side claiming the CRISPR invention is known as the CVC group and includes the two researchers who won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their pioneering CRISPR work, Jennifer Doudna of the University of California (UC), Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology. Doudna, Charpentier, and colleagues... see more