The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today granted the University of California (UC) and its partners, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, a new CRISPR-Cas9 patent, bringing the team’s continually expanding patent portfolio to 15.
Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, in 2014, with a model of the complex on her computer screen. (UC Berkeley photo courtesy of Cailey Cotner)
U.S. Patent 10,421,980 covers compositions of certain DNA-targeting RNAs that contain RNA duplexes of defined lengths that hybridize with Cas9 and target a desired DNA sequence. The patent also covers methods of targeting and binding a target DNA, modifying a target DNA, or modulating transcription from a target DNA wherein the method comprises contacting a target DNA with a complex that includes a Cas9 protein and a DNA-targeting RNA.
In the coming months, based on applications allowed by the USPTO, UC’s CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio will increase to 18. Together, these patents cover compositions and methods for CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing, including targeting and editing genes and modulating transcription in any setting, such as within plant, animal and human cells.
“With every patent that issues, UC strengthens its position as the leader in CRISPR-Cas9 intellectual property in the United States,” said Eldora Ellison, the lead patent strategist on CRISPR-Cas9 matters for UC and a director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. “We are steadfast in our commitment to developing a comprehensive patent portfolio that protects the groundbreaking work of the Doudna-Charpentier team on CRISPR-Cas9.”
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.
Doudna is a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and holder of the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences. She also is executive director of the Innovative Genomics Institute, a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco.
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; 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 15 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.