Campus news, Research, Mind & body

UC receives fourth CRISPR patent; three more on the way

By Robert Sanders

Cas9 molecule
The University of California announced on Oct. 30 that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had granted U.S. Patent Number 10,113,167, covering unique RNA guides that, when combined with the Cas9 protein, are effective at homing in on and editing genes. These RNA/protein combinations act like precision-targeted gene-editing scissors. This CRISPR-Cas9 DNA-targeting complex, discovered by Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier and their teams at UC Berkeley and the University of Vienna, is one of the fundamental molecular technologies behind the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool.
Cas9 molecule

The Cas9 protein/RNA complex that homes in on DNA complementary to the RNA guide and cuts the double-stranded DNA, like a precision-targeted DNA scissors.

The U.S. Patent Office today issued a fourth patent for the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to the University of California, expanding the university’s patent portfolio to cover a broad variety of uses in all types of cells as well as cell-free environments.

The patent office has told UC that it also plans to allow three other CRISPR patents in the near future, which will bring to seven the total number of patents awarded to Jennifer Doudna, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry, Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, and the University of Vienna.

The patent issued today, 10,266,850, originally had the application number 13/842,859 and was involved in a terminated interference proceeding involving various patents and a patent application owned by the Broad Institute, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We are very pleased at the progress we’re making with the issuance of this patent and will continue to promote the intellectual property of the Doudna-Charpentier team’s CRISPR-Cas9 invention,” said Eldora L. Ellison, Ph.D., lead patent strategist on CRISPR matters for UC and a Director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. “Today’s patent further builds on the numerous CRISPR-Cas9 applications in UC’s portfolio and will support the university’s commitment to utilizing the genome editing technology for the benefit of our society.”

The newly issued patent, co-owned by UC, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, encompasses CRISPR-related methods and systems for modifying a target DNA molecule in any setting, both in vitro (in a dish or test tube) and within live cells, using one or more single-guide RNAs. It complements previously issued U.S. Patent Nos. 10,000,772 (issued June 19, 2018); 10,113,167 (issued October 30, 2018); and 10,227,611 (issued March 12, 2019).

In addition to U.S. patents, numerous patent offices worldwide have issued patents for the work of the Doudna-Charpentier team for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in all types of cells. These include the European Patent Office (representing more than 30 countries), the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and other countries.

Groundbreaking research by the Doudna-Charpentier team, which included Martin Jinek at Berkeley, Charpentier at Umea University and Krzystof Chylinski at the University of Vienna, led to the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA-editing technology. This invention and its applications have been extensively recognized in the international scientific community through numerous awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Science, Japan Prize, Gruber Prize in Genetics, BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award, and Kavli Prize in Nanoscience.

UC has encouraged widespread commercialization of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology through its exclusive license with Caribou Biosciences, Inc. of Berkeley, which has sublicensed the technology to many companies internationally, including Intellia Therapeutics, Inc. for certain human therapeutic applications. Charpentier has licensed the technology to CRISPR Therapeutics AG and ERS Genomics Limited.

UC is deeply committed to developing and applying its patented technologies, including CRISPR-Cas9, for the betterment of humankind, and allows nonprofit institutions, including academic institutions, to use the technology for non-commercial educational and research purposes.