CRISPR technology is a core competency for Merck, a leading science and technology company that received its first U.S. patent in February 2019 for its proxy-CRISPR technology making CRISPR more efficient, flexible, and specific. The company continues to develop technologies in a range of genome-editing applications, including gene knockout, gene integration, and CRISPR libraries for genetic screens.
The company has recently been granted the patent for CRISPR-Chrom technology which improves access to the genome for more efficient editing, making them the only U.S. patent holder in the CRISPR chromatin space.
Genomic DNA in mammalian cells is wrapped tightly in protein complexes called chromatin that makes genomic DNA inaccessible to CRISPR. Merck’s CRISPR-Chrom technology fuses chromatin modulating peptides to a CRISPR protein or CRISPR’s DNA scissors that allows for more efficient gene editing. The study— initially published in the February 2018 issue of The CRISPR Journal—was one of the top five downloaded articles of the year.
A Leader In Genome Editing
The Life Science business of Merck is a leader in genome editing and is constantly conducting research and development to drive improvements in gene-editing technologies. Their CRISPR patent portfolio includes granted patents for CRISPR-related technologies covering foundational and alternative genome-editing methods. The company has also successfully out-licensed its CRISPR patent portfolio and continues to license its entire CRISPR patent portfolio for all fields of use.
Merck has been awarded CRISPR integration technology patents in Australia, China, Singapore, South Korea, Canada, Europe, and Israel. The patents granted in Europe and pending in other parts of the world cover plasmid or viral vectors encoding CRISPR systems, which are essential in performing genome modification in eukaryotic cells. They also have other European patents and pending applications that are for protein-RNA nickase compositions.
Second Merck CRISPR Patent in the U.S.
According to Udit Batra, member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science, the award marked their second U.S. CRISPR patent and their 23rd CRISPR-related patent worldwide. As a leading innovator of CRISPR technology that aims to offer the most advanced gene-editing options, the company will continue to drive innovation and collaborate with scientists worldwide.
Merck understands that genome editing has resulted in major advancements in biological research and medicine and is proactive and aggressive in the pursuit of CRISPR patent out-licensing partners for therapeutics, agriculture, and research. With 16 years of experience with genome editing, spanning from discovery to manufacturing, it’s no surprise that they become the only provider with a patent covering the fusion of chromatin modulating peptides to CRISPR proteins that help clear chromatin out of the way and increase access to the genome. Recognizing the growing potential of genome-editing technologies that has opened scientific, legal, and societal concerns, the company continues to support research with genome editing under careful consideration of ethical and legal standards.