Darmstadt, Germany, December 19, 2017 — Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore has issued a “Notice of Eligibility for Grant” for Merck’s patent application covering the company’s CRISPR technology used in a genomic-integration method for eukaryotic cells.
"Singapore’s notice of patent allowance for Merck’s CRISPR integration technology is yet another reinforcement of our intellectual property,” said Udit Batra, Member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science. “We look forward to receiving additional grants for similar patent applications in several other countries as we collaborate with the global scientific community to find new treatments for diseases.”
Merck is now licensing these foundational integration patent allowances for applications including basic science research, agricultural biotech and therapeutic use.
This forthcoming, fundamental patent in Singapore, entitled “CRISPR-BASED GENOME MODIFICATION AND REGULATION,” covers chromosomal integration, or cutting of the chromosomal sequence of eukaryotic cells (such as mammalian and plant cells) and insertion of an external or donor DNA sequence into those cells using CRISPR. Scientists can replace a disease-associated mutation with a beneficial or functional sequence, a method important for creating disease models and gene therapy. Additionally, the method can be used to insert transgenes that label endogenous proteins for visual tracking within cells.
CRISPR genome-editing technology, which allows the precise modification of chromosomes in living cells, is advancing treatment options for some of the toughest medical conditions faced today. CRISPR applications are far-ranging —from identifying genes associated with cancer and rare diseases to reversing mutations that cause blindness.
Once issued, the Singapore patent will extend the protection of Merck’s CRISPR integration technology into Singapore, further strengthening the company's patent portfolio. Merck also has patent filings for its insertion CRISPR method in the U.S., Brazil, China, India, Israel, Japan and South Korea. In June 2017, Merck was awarded its first CRISPR patent by the Australian patent office. That award was followed by related patent awards by European and Canadian Patent Offices.
With a 12-year history in the genome-editing field, Merck was the first company to offer custom biomolecules for genome editing globally (TargeTron™ RNA-guided group II introns and CompoZr™ zinc finger nucleases), driving adoption of these techniques by researchers all over the world. Merck was also the first company to manufacture arrayed CRISPR libraries covering the entire human genome, accelerating cures for diseases by allowing scientists to explore more questions about root causes.
Merck recognizes the potential benefits of conducting properly defined research with genome editing because of the breakthrough therapeutic potential. Therefore, Merck supports research with genome editing under careful consideration of ethical and legal standards. Merck has established a Bioethics Advisory Panel to provide guidance for research in which its businesses are involved, including research on or using genome editing.