Sunday, April 15, 2018

This Week in Science History: Mouse Patent

Article Written By: Teresa Marotta


On April 12 1988, the United States issued the world’s first patent for a higher form of life- a mouse developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School. The mouse was issued patent No. 4,736,866 as a ''transgenic nonhuman mammal''. The mouse was developed by Dr. Philip Leder (a geneticist at Harvard Medical School) and Dr. Timothy A. Stewart (a former Harvard researcher). They developed the genetically altered mouse by isolating a cancer-causing gene in many mammals (including humans) and injected it into fertilized mouse eggs. The altered mouse breed serves as a model for studying how genes contribute to cancer. In addition, the breed can be used to test new drugs/therapies to treat cancer and to determine if chemicals/toxic substances in food or the environment are harmful. The first patent for a crop plant was approved in 1930 and in 1980 scientists were permitted by law to patent genetically altered microorganisms.

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