UC becomes largest CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio holder

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The UC system, along with the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, was awarded a new patent Tuesday from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, marking the university’s 16th patent for the CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio — the highest number in the country.

Campus biochemistry and molecular biology professor Jennifer Doudna, former campus postdoctoral researcher Martin Jinek and a team of researchers developed CRISPR technology. The patent was also created with help from professor Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology and Krzysztof Chylinski of the University of Vienna, making them co-owners of the patent.

This patent covers new methods of gene editing in prokaryotic cells. It provides a DNA-targeting RNA that comprises a targeting sequence and, together with a modifying polypeptide, provides for site-specific modification of target DNA, a polypeptide associated with the target DNA or both, specifically covering these methods in bacterial cells.

USPTO has awarded a CRISPR-Cas9 patent to the university for five consecutive weeks, according to a Berkeley News press release. This has resulted in a colossal increase in the compositions and methods covered in the portfolio.

Currently, the university has a portfolio that includes 16 patents, which makes it the largest CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio in the country. Following the applications that USPTO has issued as patents, in the coming weeks, this number will subsequently increase to 18 patents.

Eldora Ellison, lead patent strategist on CRISPR-Cas9 matters for the university and a director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, said in an email that this number of patents gives the university the widest-ranging intellectual property protection for this gene-editing technology.

“UC has significantly expanded its CRISPR-Cas9 portfolio this summer, strengthening the university’s position as the leader in CRISPR-Cas9 IP in the U.S.,” Ellison said in an email.

According to Ellison, now that the university has these patents, it is fully committed to applying them in its U.S. CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio “for the betterment of humankind.”

Ellison added that one of the great aspects of this technology that can allow further advances is that its applications are far-reaching and relevant to a wide variety of uses in the life sciences.

The university’s plans regarding the search for more patents have not yet ceased.

“We have submitted additional applications to the USPTO for various methods and compositions related to CRISPR-Cas9 and expect some applications to issue as patents in the coming months,” Ellison said in an email. “It’s not uncommon for an inventor to pursue many versions of their invention based on the foundational patent.”

Contact Olivia González Britt at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Oliviagbritt.