Merck and the Broad Institute have signed an agreement on the granting of non-exclusive intellectual property licenses to CRISPR-based genome editing.
The contract simplifies and accelerates IP access to CRISPR for research purposes. "Together with the Broad Institute, we are simplifying the licensing of CRISPR technology, making it more widely available to the international research community," said Udit Batra, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Life Science. This may shorten the development of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of previously untreatable diseases, he added.
Under the agreement, the partners will grant non-exclusive access to IP controlled by the Broad Institute and jointly owned by the Broad Institute and its affiliates (including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the New York Genome Center, New York University, Rockefeller University, the University of Iowa Research Foundation, Tokyo University, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, etc.). Additionally, it grants non-exclusive access to IP of Merck-IP, with certain restrictions on Merck-IP regarding the creation of rodent models.
Particularly, Merck's IP under the Sigma-Aldrich portfolio of CRISPR technology will be provided free of charge to nonprofit academic institutions, charities and government agencies for their internal research, in line with Broad Institute's longtime practice and requirements. The licenses take into account the ethical considerations of the Broad Institute and Merck in connection with licensing. As a result, certain applications of CRISPR technology are excluded, including any application to alter the human germ line for clinical purposes. Both organizations can continue to license independently outside this framework.
In addition to the intellectual property of the Broad Institute and Merck, this license agreement covers certain IPs jointly owned by the Broad Institute and other institutions, including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rockefeller University, and the University of Iowa Research Foundation , the University of Tokyo, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and others The Broad Institute and Merck have each formulated guidelines that support the use of genome editing in research, with careful consideration of ethical and legal standards.
With the Merck Bioethics Advisory Panel (MBAP), Merck has set up an independent, external bioethical advisory body to provide guidance for research involving its divisions. This includes research on or via genome editing. The company has also defined a clear operational position, taking into account scientific and societal issues, in order to pave the way for promising therapeutic approaches for use in research and applications.