American Bar Association
Section of Science & Technology Law: Biotechnology Law Commitee

Section of Science & Technology Law:
Biotechnology Law Commitee

About the Biotechnology Law Committee

This committee keeps abreast of various topics relating to biotechnology including research, commercial, regulatory and patent issues. The committee also covers biotechnology issues relating to clinical medicine, such as gene therapy, forensic medicine, such as DNA fingerprinting, and other areas of biotechnology raising ethical and/or evidentiary issues. The committee follows pending legislation designed not only to control the availability of products of biotechnology, but also to protect the proprietary rights of biotechnology developments in the U.S.

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Hot topics

Patenting Organs-on-chips (January 13, 2016)

Organs-on-chips have important implications for drug development, disease research, and personalized medicine. However, inventors may face challenges as they attempt to patent these devices. Because they use human cells to mimic human physiology, organs-on-chips could be considered patent ineligible products of nature under 35 U.S.C. 101. In addition, their most intriguing feature could present the largest obstacle to patentability. Organs-on-chips can be linked together to create more elaborate human bodies-on-chips, which could be considered human organisms. Section 33(a) of the America Invents Act prohibits patent claims that are directed to or encompass a human organism. The terms "directed to," "encompass," and "human organism" are not defined by the statute or the US Patent Office. As a result, courts could interpret them broadly to prohibit patents on organs or bodies-on-chips.

Ways to Get Involved

At this time, we need: (1) a volunteer to present for 10 minutes to Section leadership on a hot topic in Biotech Law on Tuesday December 6; (2) a volunteer to prepare an updated primer or guide to electronic resources for Biotech Law practitioners; and (2) nominations for the committee's Annual Review -- the top 10 legal developments in 2016 affecting biotech; the committee will be hosting a teleconference in Q1 and writing a brief publication (3 paragraphs per development). Contact if you are interested.

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Lietzan, Erika


Davis, Matt
Haddach, Aubrey
Shelton, Deborah

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Modified by Barbara Mitchell on February 16, 2017

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