Merck announced that the Chinese Patent Office (State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China – SIPO;中华人民共和国国家知识产权局) has granted Merck’s patent application for the company’s CRISPR technology. The patent covers integration of an external DNA sequence into the chromosome of eukaryotic cells such as mammalian and plant cells. This allows to replace a disease-associated mutation with a beneficial or functional sequence. The method is of great interest for creating disease models and gene therapy and can be used to insert transgenes that label endogenous proteins for visual tracking within cells.
Merck has a 13-year history in the genome-editing field. The company has related patent filings for its insertion CRISPR method in the U.S., Brazil, India, and Japan. Similar key patents have been granted in Australia, Canada, Europe, Israel, Singapore, and South Korea.
To supports research with genome editing under careful consideration of ethical and legal standards, Merck has established a Bioethics Advisory Panel to give guidance for research in which its businesses are involved, including research on or using genome editing. The company has defined a clear operational position taking into account scientific and societal issues while not blocking any promising therapeutic approaches for use in research and applications.