The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today awarded the University of California (UC), University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier a patent for CRISPR-Cas9 that, along with two others awarded this month, brings the team’s comprehensive portfolio of gene-editing patents to 14.
The newest patent, U.S. 10,415,061, covers compositions comprising single-molecule DNA-targeting RNAs or nucleic acids encoding single-molecule DNA-targeting RNAs, as well as methods of targeting and binding a target DNA, modifying a target DNA or modulating transcription from a target DNA with a complex that comprises a Cas9 protein and single-molecule DNA-targeting RNA.
On Sept. 10, the USPTO issued to the UC team U.S. patent 10,407,697 covering single-molecule guide RNAs or nucleic acid molecules encoding the guide RNAs. And on Sept. 3, the patent office issued U.S. patent 10,400,253, which covers compositions of single-molecule, DNA-targeting RNA (single-guide RNA, or sgRNA) and a Cas9 protein or nucleic acid encoding the Cas9 protein.
Another patent is set to issue next Tuesday, Sept. 24, bringing the total U.S. patent portfolio to 15. Three other patent applications have been allowed by the USPTO and are set to issue as patents in the coming months, which will raise the total to 18. These patents and applications span various compositions and methods for the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, including targeting and editing genes and modulating transcription, and covering the technology in any setting, such as within plant, animal and human cells. The methods and compositions covered in UC’s CRISPR-Cas9 portfolio come together to comprise the widest-ranging patent portfolio for the gene-editing technology.
“This month, we have seen exponential growth of UC’s U.S. CRISPR-Cas9 portfolio,” said Eldora Ellison, Ph.D., lead patent strategist on CRISPR-Cas9 matters for UC and a director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. “We remain committed to expanding our robust portfolio to include additional methods and compositions for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing so that the range of applications can be fully utilized for the benefit of humanity.”
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.
The 14 CRISPR-Cas9 patents in this team’s portfolio are 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; 10,385,360; 10,400,253; 10,407,697; and 10,415,061. These patents are not a part of the PTAB’s recently declared interference between 14 UC patent applications and multiple previously issued Broad Institute patents and one application, which jeopardizes essentially all of the Broad’s CRISPR patents involving eukaryotic cells.
International patent offices have also recognized the pioneering innovations of the Doudna-Charpentier team, in addition to the 14 patents granted in the U.S. 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.
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, Dr. Charpentier has licensed the technology to CRISPR Therapeutics AG and ERS Genomics Limited.