Who Owns the Biggest Biotech Discovery of the Century?
Currently, there is a huge fight over who owns the patent for the new DNA-editing technology called CRISPR. Just last month in a glamorous and glitzy event, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, both biologists had received the Breakthrough Prize worth $3 million. The prize had been given to them for developing this new technology, which can edit the genomes of DNA.
However, in April Feng Zhang, a researcher at MIT in Cambridge had managed to get a patent for the technology, which means that his research location and he could have the most crucial thing, including control over how it is used commercially. The patent was given to him by the Broad Institute. Just because he currently holds the patent doesn’t mean much until everything is settled.
Now people are confused about how the patent and the prize money has landed in different hands, including 6 different universities, 3 startup companies that were financed with lots of money and thousands upon thousands of pages of legal papers.
Zhang and Doudna had co-founded Editas Medicine, which is the company that has the patent for the technology, but there is a small problem. Doudna has now left the company and has given the license to her intellectual property or her pending patent to Intellia. While, Charpentier had also sold her part of the patent application to another company called CRISPR Therapeutics.