On Wednesday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) upheld a series of patents on gene editing technology by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The patents have been awarded for a DNA altering technique called CRISPR.
Heart disease is an umbrella term which encompasses a range of disorders such as heart attacks, congenital heart diseases, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. Heart disease is the number one cause for death in both men and women in the US. CT scans of mummies have shown that heart disease was frequent in Ancient Egypt which suggests that there are other causes to heart disease apart from smoking, fast food and inactivity.1
There is often confusion between biotechnology and pharmaceuticals; although they both produce drugs, they do so in different ways and have a different basis. To manufacture drugs, biotech companies use live organisms such as bacteria whereas pharmaceutical industry usually use artificial materials to create their drugs.
The UK government may have sought to close down ongoing speculation about the future of the country following the vote to leave the EU, as Theresa May spells out that she is not prepared to give a running commentary on negotiations. However, business goes on - not least in the pharmaceuticals and healthcare sector, where the UK currently enjoys the third highest share of R&D investment in this area globally. Indeed, following the Brexit vote, GSK committed £275 million of investment to its three factories in Britain, and last month tied up an agreement with a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to establish a new UK-based joint venture, Galvani Bioelectronics.
A decision yesterday from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has paved the way for more expansive patent opportunities in the biotech industry, as it upheld a patent that describes a process for repeatedly freezing and thawing a liver cell in a way that preserves it for testing or treatment purposes.
The discovery and subsequent developments within gene-editing are believed to represent some of the biggest biotechnology advances in recent history. It has been a controversial topic across the globe, with ethics often entering into the equation. Whilst many scientists refer to it as the 'holy grail', enabling us to treat deadly genetic diseases in the future, others worry it is a slippery slope which could lead to editing human embryos.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of months, you've probably seen the news stories and court cases involving huge pharmaceutical corporations battling against much smaller entities over the right to owning intellectual property on medical products and processes.