Monday, April 16, 2018
My colleague and coauthor, Bill Tomlinson, a professor at the Victoria University of Wellington Business School/Orauariki, New Zealand/Aotearoa, alerted me to the fact that our 2009 article, Patents and the Regress of Useful Arts, has been tabled by the Commerce Committee of the New Zealand Parliament/Pāremata Aotearoa (see here) and featured as an informational resource on the "Forum" page of The Pirate Party of New Zealand (see here).
Friday, April 13, 2018
I was honored to be a guest on This Week in Health Law (TWIHL) on April 9, 2018. A recording of the show is here. Thank you very much to the stars of TWIHL, Nicholas Terry (the Hall Render Professor of Law & Executive Director, Hall Center for Law and Health at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis) and Frank Pasquale (Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore), who made the interview fun and interesting. We primarily discussed my research on patent valuation (with my colleague at the University of Washington Information School, Jevin West) and synthetic biology (in general and empirically). Congratulations to Nic and Frank for creating and sustaining TWIHL, which, in my mind, has become a necessary voice for understanding health law.
Friday, March 2, 2018
Thursday, January 11, 2018
The realization that some diseases have genetic etiologies long inspired the hope that "correcting" mutant DNA sequences in patients could cure their diseases. Recent progress in gene therapy has made this tantalizing possibility seem achievable, and precise and efficient gene editing methods using tools like CRISPR-Cas9 have accelerated progress considerably. However, an important preprint article, entitled "Identification of Pre-Existing Adaptive Immunity to Cas9 Proteins in Humans", published by Charlesworth et al. on bioRχiv, has now cast a shadow on the efficacy of CRISPR-Cas9 in humans. The Matt Porteus' research team, based at Stanford Medical School, appear to have discovered an immune response to CRISPR-Cas9:
The most widely used homologs of the Cas9 protein are derived from the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes). Based on the fact that these two bacterial species cause infections in the human population at high frequencies, we looked for the presence of pre-existing adaptive immune responses to their respective Cas9 homologs, SaCas9 (S. aureus homolog of Cas9) and SpCas9 (S. pyogenes homolog of Cas9)...[Our results] demonstrate[s] that there are pre-existing humoral and cell-mediated adaptive immune responses to Cas9 in humans, a factor which must be taken into account as the CRISPR-Cas9 system moves forward into clinical trials. [Italics added for Linnaean emphasis.]If humans, and, presumably, other mammals, possess potent immune responses to the Cas protein component of this powerful gene editing system, the therapeutic prospects for CRISPR-Cas9 may dim considerably beyond applications in isolated cells or tissues or patients having immature or suppressed immune responses. After many more than two steps forward, therapeutic gene editing may be about to take at least one substantial step backward.