PCR Patent Debate

Brett Beitzel brett_beitzel at MSMTP.IDDE.SACI.ORG
Thu Apr 18 09:30:07 EST 1996

Subject:RE> PCR Patent Debate                      Date: 4/18/96

On 4/17 John Brenannd said:

I seem to recall that when Mullis was patenting PCR in the late 80's there
was a lot of scepticism around here that this would be granted on the grounds
that it was "obvious" by virtue of a description of the principle of the
technique in a paper by Gobind Khorana (I think!) 
published in the late 70's.

Can anyone recall that paper - I would be interested in looking up the

The paper that I know about is: 
     Kleppe, K., et al   Studies on Polynucleotides: Repair Replication of
short synthetic DNAs as catalyzed by DNA polymerases  J Mol Biol 56:341-361

In the discussion on pg. 360 they describe, basically, PCR.  I worked for Ian
Molineux (one of the coauthors) as an undergrad, and he said that one of the
reasons that they did not pursue (or could not pursue) the technique was the
difficulty of producing oligos at the time.  It could take months to produce
1 oligo.

I still can't believe Mullis got the Nobel Prize when PCR was described in
the literature in 1971 - but that's another story...

Brett Beitzel
brett_beitzel at msmtp.idde.saci.org
Cancer Therapy and Research Center
San Antonio, TX

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