The decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to grant the patent could further fuel a long-running dispute between the university and the Broad Institute, a biological and genomic research center affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard that also holds patents on CRISPR.
Patent rights to CRISPR could eventually be worth billions of dollars, as the technology could revolutionize the treatment of diseases, crop engineering and other areas.
CRISPR works as a type of molecular scissors that can trim away unwanted pieces of genetic material, such as a gene mutation associated with diseases, and replace them with new ones. Easier to use than older techniques, it has quickly become a preferred method of gene editing in research labs. (Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot)