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14 November 2019EuropeRory O'Neill

Merck and Evotec strike CRISPR licensing deal

Merck has agreed to license its CRISPR gene-editing technology to German biotech company Evotec.

Hamburg-based Evotec said it would use the genome-editing tech to create edited cell lines for its commercial and internal research purposes.

Udit Batra, CEO of Merck's life sciences business, said the licence would be the “impetus for important drug testing and discovery that promises to accelerate research and lead to the development of new therapies”.

Evotec said it would use the licensed IP to develop “precisely engineered assays to determine the biology and toxicity for potential drug candidates during the drug development cycle”.

Craig Johnstone, chief operating officer of Evotec, said the company was committed to “using CRISPR technology to test and improve the translation of efficacy of the new drugs we develop to bring relief to patients suffering from underserved conditions worldwide”.

Merck owns 20 CRISPR patents worldwide, covering what it claims is the foundational CRISPR-Cas9 tech for “genetic integration in mammalian cells”.

The company recently petitioned the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to open an interference proceeding between its pending CRISPR-Cas9 patents and those owned by the Regents of the University of California (UC).

The request came a month after the USPTO reopened a similar dispute between UC and the Broad Institute.

Darmstadt-based Merck's life sciences business operates under the MilliporeSigma brand name in the US and Canada. Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories sent like this straight to your inbox.

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