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17 June 2021Big PharmaAlex Baldwin

UC Berkeley gets $54k for T-cell patent NFT

The University of California Berkeley has sold a non-fungible token (NFT) based on patent disclosures for Nobel Prize-winning cancer immunotherapies research at an online auction, netting approximately $54,360 from the sale.

NFTs are unique data assets stored on a digital ledger (or blockchain) that typically represent artwork, music or even patents.

UC Berkeley will still own the relevant patents for the invention by alumni Jim Allison, which is based on blocking CTLA-4 receptors on immune T-cells to help fight cancer.

The NFT, named “The Fourth Pillar”, is a digital collage of 10 pages of details about Allison’s research and correspondences with the UC Berkeley patent office prior to filing the patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The bid took place on the NFT-auction platform Foundation on June 8, using Ethereum cryptocurrency as payment. A group of 31 UC Berkeley alumni secured the winning bid for the NFT, offering up 22 ETH (approx. $54,360).

Around 85% or $50,000 of the proceeds of the winning bid will go towards education and research at the university, including seed funding for early-stage research at the campus.

“An important benefit of this process is that we’ve now built an A+ team that will serve as capacity for future innovation at Berkeley, not just for the minting of other Nobel NFTs,” noted Rich Lyons, UC Berkeley’s chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer.

Following this successful auction, UC Berkeley also plans to auction a second NFT of patent disclosures—this time for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology, co-invented by Berkely alumni Jennifer Doudna.

The invention was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 and was created by Doudna and Max Planck professor Emmanuelle Charpentier.

Patents as NFTs is a concept with a lot of promise, IPwe CEO Erich Spangenberg told  WIPR in May. The tokenisation of patents could unlock “billions of dollars'' of untapped assets, and help patents be more easily sold, traded, commercialised and financed.

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