CRISPR Update – July 2016
This is the first update on CRISPR. We will continue providing monthly updates.
CRISPR is a prokaryotic immune defense mechanism found in a wide range of bacteria and archaea. In recent years, it has been discovered that, by delivering into a eukaryotic cell Cas9 nuclease, which can snip DNA, and one or more guide RNAs, which tell Cas9 where to snip, the CRISPR system can also edit the eukaryotic genome (e.g., human genome). Because of the excellent editing efficiency and ease of use, CRISPR has been widely hailed as one of the most important biotech discoveries of the 21st century.
Many groups around the world are actively seeking to harness the power of CRISPR to advance and expand therapeutic products and options. It has been reported that the first human CRISPR clinical trial will start in China next month,  in which the CRISPR system will be used to edit T cells of lung cancer patients ex vivo, and that another human CRISPR clinical trial has also received a green light in the U.S.
CRISPR Patents and Published Applications in the U.S.
Not surprisingly, CRISPR-related U.S. patent filings have exploded. We searched the USPTO database for U.S. patents and published applications that recite “CRISPR” or “Cas9” in either the claims or the abstract. Our search does not encompass foreign patents or applications. The search result is available via the link here.
In summary, we found 35 CRISPR-related granted U.S. patents and 305 CRISPR-related U.S. published applications that had been published as of July 27, 2016. The total number of U.S. CRISPR patents and published applications has been rising fast, from under 20 in 2013 and before, to 74 in 2014, 128 in 2015, and 118 as of July 27, 2016 (Figure 1).
Although not an exhaustive list, some of the applicants/assignees of U.S. CRISPR patents and published applications who are actively filing include, on the university side, Harvard, MIT, the Broad Institute, and the University of California (Table 1), and on the corporate side, Sangamo, Caribou, Regeneron, Dow, and Agilent (Table 2).
Some of the inventors identified in U.S. CRISPR patents and published applications include Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute, David Liu and George Church of Harvard, and Jennifer Doudna of the University of California (Table 3).
CRISPR Patent Interference
No new rulings to report this month.
Regulatory and Legislative News
Earlier in July, the Senate passed legislation (S.764) that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national standard for disclosing “bioengineered” foods. This has implications for CRISPR. We will publish a separate post in the near term to explain the relevance of S.764 to CRISPR.
 Cong et al., Science 339:819-823 (2013); Mali et al., Science 339:823-826 (2013).
 The authors make no representations about the validity, enforceability, or disclosures of the patent documents listed.