CRISPR update: lots of new pubs, news, & maybe a patent finale

Figure 1a from Akcakaya, et al. CRISPR paper, Nature, 2018
Figure 1a from Akcakaya, et al. CRISPR paper, Nature, 2018

Sometimes it seems like a bunch of stuff in one area, like with CRISPR this week, happens all of a sudden in science.

A bunch of fairly high-profile gene editing pubs came out. They generated a lot of news reports. Other news in this arena popped up too, all within a few days.

Figure 1a from Akcakaya, et al. CRISPR paper, Nature, 2018
Figure 1a from Akcakaya, et al. CRISPR paper, Nature, 2018

And there was this loaded question of an article: What’s the Likelihood That CRISPR Will Cure Cancer? As in all cancer? Just one type of cancer? Directly or indirectly?

Jennifer Doudna is opening a lab at The Gladstone Institute across the bay from Cal so I guess she’ll have two labs including hers in Berkeley. Double the gene editing fun?

We had the possibly final word from the courts on the gene editing patent dispute with UC Berkeley sadly losing out to The Broad, which to me doesn’t seem right scientifically, but perhaps was the powers that be in the legal patent arena just doing their thing the way they think best.

See Jacob Sherkow’s STAT piece where he makes this kind of argument.

Here’s my piece from last year as to why I thought Berkeley more deserving.

Here’s also Berkeley’s response to the new patent decision, in which they leave the door open to further action more broadly…so is it over or not?

2 Comments


  1. In regards to the article discussing the likelihood of finding a cure for cancers using CRISPR, it reads in 20 years we won’t likely have a cure, but will likely have better treatment options. Do you think, Dr. Knoepfler, if they are considering how AI will help to speed the process up? Are they considering this from a linear or exponential increase in advancements? 20 years plus seems pessimistic to me.


    • I agree that 20 years seems pessimistic. I don’t think CRISPR will directly cure specific cancers via gene editing of the cancer itself since cancers are too heterogeneous and adept at evolving. However, using CRISPR to engineer CAR-T cells could lead to cures of certain cancers. I also am optimistic about knowledge gained from CRISPR work leading to new drugs that are effective for certain cancers.

Leave a Reply