Jurassic Patents: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Life Science Innovation
“Jurassic patents” explores the possibility of patenting discoveries and inventions based on nature – including revived dinosaurs and other extinct species. But the life science, chemistry, and pharmaceutical industries have much more to offer than novelties. For example, gene therapy, after years of promise, is now a reality, and monoclonal antibody pharmaceuticals are on the rise. Nonetheless, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated patents over natural products, including isolated DNA and proteins. Life science innovators must adapt to an evolving legal landscape and explore creative approaches to protect natural products as business assets. Regulatory exclusivity periods, combinations of natural products in formulations or devices, trade secrets, and the like must be considered. Also, patents can still be had for modified natural products — Frankensteins. Even organisms turned synthetic can be patented. This panel will discuss whether a focus on synthetic biomolecules and cells, a Frankenstein model of life science innovation, is required for future success.