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Merck Awarded its First CRISPR Patent by Australian Patent Office

Sep 11 2017 Read 776 Times

Merck has announced that the Australian Patent Office has granted the company patent rights over the use of CRISPR in a genomic integration method for eukaryotic cells.

The patent is the first that Merck has received for CRISPR technology. The patent covers chromosomal integration, or cutting of the chromosomal sequence of eukaryotic cells (such as mammalian and plant cells) and insertion of an external or donor DNA sequence into those cells using CRISPR.

“Merck has developed an incredible tool to give scientists the ability to find new treatments and cures for conditions for which there are limited options, including cancer, rare diseases and chronic conditions, such as diabetes,” said Udit Batra, Member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science. “This patent decision recognises our expertise in CRISPR technology - a body of knowledge that we are committed to grow.”

Merck has patent filings for its insertion CRISPR method in Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the US.

Merck has a 14-year history in the genome-editing field. It was the first company to offer custom biomolecules for genome editing globally (TargeTron™ RNA-guided group II introns and CompoZr™ zinc finger nucleases), driving adoption of these techniques by researchers all over the world. Merck was also the first company to manufacture arrayed CRISPR libraries covering the entire human genome, accelerating cures for diseases by allowing scientists to explore more questions about root causes.

With Merck’s CRISPR genomic integration technology, scientists can replace a disease-associated mutation with a beneficial or functional sequence, a method important for creation of disease models and gene therapy. Additionally, scientists can use the method to insert transgenes that label endogenous proteins for visual tracking within cells.

In May 2017, Merck announced that it had developed an alternative CRISPR genome-editing method called proxy-CRISPR. Unlike other systems, Merck’s proxy-CRISPR technique can cut previously unreachable cell locations, making CRISPR more efficient, flexible and specific, and giving researchers more experimental options. Merck has filed several patent applications on its proxy-CRISPR technology, and those applications are just the latest of multiple CRISPR patent filings made by the company since 2012.

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