The European patent battle over the revolutionary gene-editing tool, CRIPSR, has taken an unexpected turn with the introduction of MilliporeSigma. MilliporeSigma is a U.S and Canada subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany, and are now the major leader in the battle after the EPO suggested it intends to grant a patent to them

On the 27th July, The European Patent Office signaled that it would grant a patent for the use of CRISPR to splice genetic information into eukaryotic cells to MilliporeSigma. The MilliporeSigma claims explicitly state that “the method does not comprise a process for modifying the germ line genetic identity of a human being.”

The most high-profile patent battle over the CRISPR technology pits a group led by the University of California (UC) against the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its collaborators. In that dispute over filings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, UC claims its patent covers uses of CRISPR in all types of cells, whereas the Broad says only it deserves patents for the tool’s use in eukaryotes, which is the key marketplace for developing novel human medicines with the technology.

 The specific claims made by MilliporeSigma, he notes, closely match what the Broad’s lead researcher reported in a landmark Science paper in January 2013. But MilliporeSigma filed its claims 6 days before the Broad group.


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