CRISPR patents by numbers

CRISPR patent landscape IPStudies
Number of applications for new patent families filed worldwide. Data from 2018 and 2019 are incomplete. Due to a lag in the publication of US filings, most of the applications included in the tally are in China. [Credit IPStudies/The Scientist]

According to IPStudies, over 12,000 CRISPR patent applications have been filed worldwide, falling into about 4,600 patent familiesThe number of issued patents is still impressive, more than 740 to date. More than half have been awarded in just two countries. Can you guess where?

China and the US, of course. Players dominating the patent landscape are the University of California and the Broad Institute – where CRISPR was respectively invented and adapted for genome editing in eukaryotes – the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the US company DuPont and the Massachusetts-based biotech firm Editas Medicine.

The struggle between UC and Broad over the standard Cas9 system is still on and is pushing the development of alternatives. CRISPR enzymes now come in approximately 50 different types, including Cpf1, C2c2,  and CasY.

The partial score at the US and the EU patent offices is 34 patents granted to the Boston team and 10 to Berkeley. To learn more, read The Scientist.

Relieving the IP burden on ag research


CRISPR is cheap and easy enough to be employed in every lab not just by major ag-biotech companies. A serious roadblock standing in the way of researchers, however, threatened to limit the technology potential for plant breeding: intellectual property (IP) rights. The good news is that two major patent holders, DuPont Pioneer and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, have agreed to create a joint licensing framework for genome editing in agriculture. As a result, academic researchers are allowed to use CRISPR on plants free of charge, while biotech companies interested in commercial ag applications have a simplified procedure to access to the tools they need. Continue reading

CRISPRing future harvests at DuPont

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CRISPR is set to make its commercial debut in maize fields in 2020. The honor (and burden) of probing the market, as the first product developed with the revolutionary technique for genome editing, is up to a kind of corn called waxy for the appearance of its kernels. Its starch is almost entirely amylopectin and almost zero amylose. Conventional waxy varieties already available to farmers have some yield drag due to the undesirable genetic baggage introduced by breeding. Conversely, DuPont Pioneer researchers created a waxy version of their best corn without yield drag or foreign DNA by editing out a gene for an enzyme that produces amylose. Amylopectin is used for the production of goods such as paper adhesives and food thickeners. What remains after its extraction is a protein flour that can be employed as feed. It may sound like a low-profile debut for the celebrated genome editing technology that is asked to succeed where GMOs have failed: gaining consumer confidence. But this is a deliberate strategy, as explained below by Neal Gutterson, DuPont Pioneer’s vice president of R&D. Continue reading