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By Michele Sanguanini

CRISPR/Cas9 is a gene editing technology that is revolutionising the way that scientists design biomedical research. In addition to this, CRISPR/Cas9 is opening promising avenues for applications in gene therapy, manufacturing, and agriculture. The commercial and disruptive potential of this invention is so promising that it sparked a ‘gold rush’ towards patenting CRISPR/Cas technologies. Two principal players weighed in to define the CRISPR/Cas9 patent landscape in the US: the University of California Berkeley (UCB) and the Broad Institute, a joint MIT-Harvard research institute. This ultimately led to a high-profile patent battle in front of the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board, where the Broad Institute prevailed in the first instance. The dispute, however, continues worldwide. In this Communication, I will focus on the European front of this litigation; the problem being not only who owns this technology in Europe, but also what are the potential impacts of patent conflicts between academic institutions on European policy and law.

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By Emma Lawrence

In recent years, the volume of data generated from all aspects of our lives has been increasing, in parallel with the sophistication of analytical techniques used to process this data. This shift toward a ‘data-driven’ society has the potential to yield insights that can benefit many sectors of public life, but it has also prompted concerns related to privacy. A recent report by the Royal Society on data management and use is a recognition that the fast pace of all areas of data growth requires careful consideration.

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By Daniela Rodriguez-Rincon

The discovery of antibiotics in 1928 led the world to believe that the fight against infectious diseases was one to be won within a few years. Nowadays, nearly 90 years following the discovery of penicillin, infectious diseases remain one of the main causes of mortality worldwide, with lower respiratory tract infections, diarrhoeal diseases, and tuberculosis ranking among the top 10 causes of death according to the World Health Organization (WHO) [1]. In recent years, the advent of antibiotic resistance, the anti-vaccination movement, and humanitarian crises have seen a rise in infectious diseases that were once thought to be nearly eradicated, such as polio, tuberculosis and measles.

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Brains

Most diseases have sudden well-defined symptoms, but isn’t forgetfulness just a part of ageing? How do you know when you should be concerned? 

by Philip Lindstedt

With the increasing life expectancy of the global population age-associated diseases stand to become the greatest plague of the 21st century. Indeed, in the U.K. dementia has recently overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death. While not through a lack of effort, the development of effective therapies for dementias, especially Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form, has been woefully unsuccessful. Policy makers around the globe have settled on a deadline of 2025 for a single effective therapy against Alzheimer’s in order to mitigate the potentially immense cost of the care burden. Although some candidates appear promising, recent high-profile failures showcase the difficult path towards 2025, casting doubt on the possibility for researchers to meet their deadline in the current policy paradigm.

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by Dr. Sobia Hamid

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being applied in healthcare and medicine, with the greatest impact being achieved thus far in medical imaging. These are technologies that are capable of performing a task that usually requires human perception and judgement, which can make them controversial in a healthcare setting. In this article we will explore some of the opportunities and risks in using AI in healthcare, as well as policy recommendations for improving their use and acceptance.

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