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CRISPR: The New Frontier of Biotechnology Innovation

By now, life sciences IP attorneys have probably heard about clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. In short, they are the signatures of bacterial immune systems that scientists have hijacked into biological tools for editing genomes, the DNA-based instruction manuals from which all living things are built and maintained. This article introduces those tools (collectively, CRISPR) and some of the hot-button IP issues that followed them into the limelight in 2017. Among the areas to watch: disputes over expansive patent rights here and abroad, calls for government intervention in licensing, industry responses to patent pooling efforts, and guidelines on how the FDA will regulate genome editing in humans. Such developments and others, along with the blistering pace of research and development, could make 2018 another exciting and formative year for CRISPR.

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