Merck granted U.S. Patents
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Merck granted U.S. Patents for Foundational CRISPR-Cas9 Technology

A leading science and technology company, Merck, announced that in the United States, two of its CRISPR-Cas9-assisted genome-editing patents have been allowed. In their work to advance and protect gene therapy development programs, these allowances provide Merck with the opportunity to support U.S. scientists and researchers. The company is seeking collaboration partners for research and product development and is in active discussions to license its foundational technology for therapeutic and other uses.

A member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science, Udit Batra said, “For many genome-editing applications and to develop personalized therapies, CRISPR-based DNA cleavage and integration can be used, thus, this is important news for researchers. To ensure that the full potential of this powerful tool is realized, responsibly, and ethically, throughout the scientific community, we will license this technology, as a leading innovator of CRISPR technology. To fight the toughest diseases and improve human health, we look forward to continuing our work with academic and industrial partners to bring the best of our collective innovations.

For the creation of disease models and the development of gene therapy, researchers are now allowed to replace a disease-associated mutation with

a beneficial or functional sequence, or delete such a mutation, commonly referred to as “knock-in” and “knock out, as these latest allowances cover Merck’s CRISPR-Cas9 cleavage and integration technology.

These grants mark the third and fourth CRISPR patents in the U.S. and 25th and 26th patents worldwide belonging to Merck. The company has CRISPR patents granted in South Korea, Singapore, Israel, Europe, China, Canada, Australia, with related patent filings in Japan, India, and Brazil.

Merck has 16 years’ experience with genome editing, spanning discovery to manufacturing, and CRISPR technology its core competency. A range of genome-editing applications, including CRISPR libraries for genetic screens, and technologies in gene integration, in gene knockout are developed by the company. Merck’s proxy-CRISPR technology, which makes genome editing more efficient, flexible, and specific, the company received its first U.S. patent in February 2019.

To simplify technology access for companies conducting CRISPR-based research via patent pooling agreements, Merck considers that now is the time for the key CRISPR intellectual property stakeholders to come together. In July 2019, for CRISPR patent licensing, Merck and The Broad Institute announced their collaboration agreement.

There have been scientific, legal, and societal concerns due to the growing potential of genome-editing technologies. Under careful consideration of ethical and legal standards, Merck supports research with genome editing. To provide guidance for research, Merck has established an independent, external Bioethics Advisory Panel. A clear Genome-Editing Technology Principle has been developed, defined, and transparently published, which informs promising therapeutic approaches for use in research applications taking scientific and societal issues into account.