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University of California Awarded Additional U.S. Patent for Regulating Gene Editing and Expression

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University of California Office of the President

The University of California, Berkeley issued the following statement on June 4, 2019:

University of California awarded additional U.S. patent for regulating gene editing and expression

USPTO issues sixth CRISPR-Cas9-related patent to University of California for genome editing and modulation of gene expression

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a new patent (U.S. Patent No. 10,308,961) to University of California (UC) covering additional methods of using the CRISPR-Cas9 system. The unique methods form a toolset for both editing genes and controlling gene expression, effectively enabling genes to be modified, activated or repressed. These techniques are not limited to single guide RNA and can be applied to both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

The claims in this patent encompass methods of using a Cas9 protein as well as a non-naturally occurring, DNA-targeting RNA that comprises a targeter-RNA and an activator-RNA. The complex binds to the target DNA, enabling modification, editing, cleavage, or modulation of transcription. The platform can therefore be used as a modular and flexible DNA-binding platform for both genome editing as well as for the activation or repression of gene expression.

"We are pleased with UC's steady expansion of its CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio, with recent patents covering important methods of controlling and altering gene expression," said Eldora L. Ellison, Ph.D., lead patent strategist on CRISPR-Cas9 matters for UC and a Director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. "We aim to continue growing and protecting the university's impressive CRISPR intellectual property through the issuance of upcoming patents."

Today's patent is the sixth in the UC's rapidly growing CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio, with four additional notices of allowance received for applications expected to issue as patents in the coming months. The CRISPR-Cas9 DNA-targeting technology was invented by Jennifer Doudna and Martin Jinek at the University of California (UC), Berkeley; Emmanuelle Charpentier (then of Umea University); and Krzystof Chylinski at the University of Vienna. The claims from this patent 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 international scientific community has widely acknowledged the pioneering nature of the Doudna-Charpentier invention of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology and its applications 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.

Together, this U.S. patent, as well as previously issued U.S. Patent Nos. 10,266,850, 10,301,651, 10,227,611, 10,000,772 and 10,113,167, cover CRISPR-Cas9 compositions and methods useful to locate genes, modulate transcription, and edit genes in any setting, including within plant, animal, and human cells.

In addition to these U.S. patents, the work of the Doudna-Charpentier team has resulted in patents for the use of CRISPR-Cas9 for gene editing in all types of cells being issued by 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.

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.