Twelfth CRISPR patent awarded to UC team

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today (Tuesday, Sept. 3) awarded a new CRISPR-Cas9 patent to the University of California (UC), University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, bringing the team’s CRISPR patent portfolio to 12.

Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, in 2014. (UC Berkeley photo courtesy of Cailey Cotner)

The new patent (U.S. 10,400,253) covers compositions of single-molecule, DNA-targeting RNA (single-guide RNA, or sgRNA) and a Cas9 protein or nucleic acid encoding the Cas9 protein.

The USPTO has allowed the claims of five other applications that are expected to issue as patents in the coming months, one of them - covering sgRNAs or DNA molecules encoding sgRNAs - on Sept. 10.

Altogether, the university will hold 17 patents covering compositions and methods of targeting and editing genes in any setting, such as within plant, animal and human cells, as well as methods to modulate transcription.

"The continued recognition from the USPTO of the Doudna-Charpentier team for the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology speaks to the revolutionary nature of the team’s work," said Eldora Ellison, the lead patent strategist on CRISPR-Cas9 matters for UC and a director at the law firm Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. "The university remains committed to its fundamental mission of applying the CRISPR-Cas9 invention for the public good."

The team that invented the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA-targeting technology included Doudna and Martin Jinek at UC Berkeley; Charpentier, then at Umea University in Sweden and now director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Germany; and Krzysztof Chylinski of the University of Vienna. The methods covered by today’s patent, as well as the other methods claimed in UC’s previously issued patents and those set to issue, were included among the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology work disclosed first by the Doudna-Charpentier team in its May 25, 2012, priority patent application.

Additional CRISPR-Cas9 patents in this team’s portfolio include 10,000,772; 10,113,167; 10,227,611; 10,266,850; 10,301,651; 10,308,961; 10,337,029; 10,351,878; 10,358,658; 10,358,659; and 10,385,360. These patents are not a part of the recently declared interference between 14 UC patent applications and multiple patents and one application previously issued to the Eli and Edith L Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The interference jeopardizes essentially all of the Broad Institute’s CRISPR patents involving eukaryotic cells. The institute is a biomedical and genomic research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

International patent offices have also recognized the pioneering innovations of the Doudna-Charpentier team, in addition to the 12 patents granted in the United States so far. The European Patent Office (representing more than 30 countries), as well as patent offices in the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and other countries, have issued patents for the use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in all types of cells.

The University of California has a long-standing commitment to develop and apply its patented technologies, including CRISPR-Cas9, for the betterment of humankind. Consistent with its open-licensing policies, UC allows nonprofit institutions, including academic institutions, to use the technology for non-commercial educational and research purposes.

In the case of CRISPR-Cas9, UC has also encouraged widespread commercialization of the technology through its exclusive license with Caribou Biosciences Inc. of Berkeley, California. Caribou has sublicensed this patent family to numerous companies worldwide, including Intellia Therapeutics Inc. for certain human therapeutic applications. Additionally, Charpentier has licensed the technology to CRISPR Therapeutics AG and ERS Genomics Limited.


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