Generative AI & Law: Similarity Between AI and Mice as a Means to Invent

Photos © Aditya Mohan | All Rights Reserved.  These views are not legal advice but business opinion based on reading some English text written by a set of intelligent people. 


The convergence of biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI) marks a transformative era in medical research. Genetically modified mice, engineered to produce human-like proteins, serve as an efficient means to synthesize new protein molecules with minimal human intervention. These proteins, often vital for treating various diseases, represent novel inventions that can be patented, incentivizing further research and development. Similarly, generative AI technologies like DeepMind's AlphaFold autonomously predict complex protein structures, reducing reliance on human computation and accelerating scientific discovery. Both these advancements illustrate how autonomous systems are increasingly playing a pivotal role in inventing and discovering new biomedical solutions, reshaping the landscape of medical research and therapy development.

The visual shows the U.S. Patent Office in 1802, conversing with its first full-time employee, Dr. William Thornton. 

 The patent was signed by President George Washington, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph, reflecting the high importance the new nation placed on the protection of inventions. This event marked the beginning of the formal patent system in the United States, a system that has since played a crucial role in fostering innovation and economic growth.

The Super Mouse

The first significant use of transgenic mice to generate new protein molecules dates back to the early 1980s. This groundbreaking work was pioneered by a team of scientists led by Richard Palmiter and Ralph Brinster. Their landmark experiment, conducted in 1981, involved the creation of what were later known as "super mouse."

In this experiment, Palmiter and Brinster inserted a rat growth hormone gene into the DNA of mouse embryos. This was achieved by using a microinjection technique where the rat growth hormone gene was attached to a piece of DNA (called a promoter) that ensured the gene would be active in the mice. The modified embryos were then implanted into female mice to develop.

Surroundings of Samuel Hopkins' workshop as it would have appeared in 1790.

The result was astonishing. The mice that were born with the rat growth hormone gene grew to be much larger than their normal counterparts. This was because the rat growth hormone gene was active in these mice, causing them to produce rat growth hormone in addition to their own mouse growth hormone. This experiment was significant not only because it showed that genes from one species could be expressed in another but also because it opened the door to the idea of using transgenic animals to produce useful biological substances.

The success of this experiment laid the foundation for the use of transgenic mice in biomedicine and biotechnology. It demonstrated the potential for these animals to produce proteins that could have pharmaceutical applications. In the years that followed, researchers began to use transgenic mice to produce a variety of medically important proteins, such as antibodies, hormones, and enzymes. This technology became a cornerstone for the pharmaceutical industry, leading to the development of new drugs and therapies based on proteins produced in transgenic animals.

Transgenic Mice  & Novel Protein Molecules

Scientists use genetically modified mice, often called "transgenic mice," to produce human-like protein molecules. These mice are engineered to carry human genes that instruct their cells to produce specific proteins that are medically relevant. For instance, a mouse might be genetically modified to produce a human protein that is important for treating a disease. The advantage of using mice lies in their biological similarity to humans, coupled with their rapid breeding cycles and the ease of genetic manipulation.

Once these proteins are produced within the mice, scientists can extract and purify them for medical use. This approach is particularly valuable for producing complex proteins that are difficult to synthesize through other means. For example, mice have been used to produce monoclonal antibodies, which are now widely used in the treatment of cancers, autoimmune diseases, and other conditions. Additionally, this method can be used to study the effects of new drugs and treatments, as the proteins produced in mice can closely mimic the response that would be seen in humans. Overall, the use of mice in synthesizing new protein molecules is a cornerstone in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research, providing a versatile and efficient means to develop and test new therapies.

The synthesis of new protein molecules using mice often leads to inventions that can be patented. This is because the process of genetically modifying mice to produce specific human-like proteins represents a novel and non-obvious method in medical science and biotechnology. The unique proteins produced, and sometimes the methods used to create and extract them, can be considered intellectual property, eligible for patent protection. This patenting process is vital as it provides the incentive for research and development by ensuring that the inventors or their organizations can exclusively benefit from their discoveries, at least for a limited time.

Generative AI & Novel Protein Molecules

The process of using genetically modified mice to synthesize new protein molecules bears a striking resemblance to how generative AI technologies, like DeepMind's AlphaFold, discover novel and non-obvious protein structures. Both approaches represent a significant shift towards more autonomous systems in scientific discovery. In the case of transgenic mice, once the initial genetic modification is done, these animals can produce complex proteins with minimal human intervention, essentially 'inventing' new biological compounds as part of their natural physiological processes. Similarly, AI systems like AlphaFold autonomously predict protein structures based on amino acid sequences. 

The image depicts a frictional view of the U.S. Patent Office in 1802 with the mouse, Dr. William Thornton, and a cyborg robot, showing how mice and AI have similarities when it comes to creating. 

This level of automation in both methods significantly reduces the need for direct human input in the inventive process. AI technologies can rapidly analyze vast datasets and predict protein structures that might have remained undiscovered due to the limitations of human computation. In parallel, transgenic mice serve as living bioreactors, continuously producing proteins without the need for constant human oversight or intervention in the production process. Both entities symbolize a new era in biological and medicinal innovation, where machines and modified organisms can independently contribute to the discovery and creation of novel biomedical inventions, accelerating the pace of scientific breakthroughs and potentially transforming the landscape of medical research and treatment.


Generative AI technologies and genetically modified mice present many parallels as tools in the realm of medical research, capable of assisting humans in inventing new protein molecules. Given their ability to autonomously generate novel and non-obvious biomedical solutions, the outputs of these advanced tools – be it AI-predicted protein structures or proteins synthesized by transgenic mice – rightfully merit consideration for patent protection, fostering innovation and advancement in medical science.

Image depicting a frictional interaction between a robot  with the patent officer, Dr. William Thornton, in the U.S. Patent Office in 1802, submitting a patent application  

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