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HomePress ReleasesMerck Announces the Licensing of Foundational CRISPR Technology to Cellecta, Paving Pathway for Development of Next-Generation Treatments

Merck Announces that its Life Science Business Sector Has Signed an Agreement Licensing its Patented CRISPR-Cas9 Technology to California-based Cellecta, Inc.

News Release

  • Fundamental genome-editing tool helps identify innovative treatments in cellular and genetic diseases
  • Company’s licensing enables researchers and scientists to advance treatments for inherited blood disorders, cancers and ophthalmological diseases, among others
  • Cellecta’s adoption of CRISPR-mediated knock-in technology provides inventive approaches to drug discovery

Darmstadt, Germany, October 5, 2021 – Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that its Life Science business sector has signed an agreement licensing its patented CRISPR-Cas9 technology to Cellecta, Inc., a functional genomics products and services provider based in Mountain View, California, USA. Through the licensing of its innovative technology, Merck is paving the path for researchers and scientists to identify and accelerate next-generation treatments.

“We are committed to advancing research and drug discovery through the development of powerful, unique technologies,” said Angela Myers, head of Gene Editing & Novel Modalities, Life Science, at Merck. “This licensing agreement is of paramount importance for researchers and scientists. Our CRISPR-based foundational integration technology is essential for many genome-editing applications and is used to identify future treatments in myriads of cellular and genetic diseases.”

Cellecta provides RNAi and CRISPR technologies for the discovery and characterization of novel therapeutic targets and genetic profiling for drug and biomarker discovery and validation, leading the way for developing highly effective next generational treatments. The company plans to use the foundational CRISPR patent estate belonging to the Life Science business of Merck to offer CRISPR-mediated targeted “knock-in,” a critical method that gives scientists more efficient options for complex projects in therapeutic and disease research.

“Merck’s technology enables us to provide a more comprehensive range of options for cell modification to our customers,” said Paul Diehl, chief operating officer of Cellecta. “More specifically, access to this technology allows us to conduct integrated knock-in which is a key component of our customer’s drug testing.”

For nearly two decades, Merck has been at the forefront of gene-editing innovation. The company continues to contribute to future drug development efforts by democratizing its patented CRISPR technology. Its experience in genome editing has led to one of the most comprehensive portfolios of CRISPR and other advanced genomics technologies impacting every step of drug development, from basic research to therapeutic delivery. The company uses its expertise to offer products and services for a range of applications, including gene knockout, targeted integration and mutagenesis, and genetic screening libraries to support research in fields such as cancer and infectious diseases.

Merck’s Life Science business holds 40 CRISPR-related patents worldwide in methods and composition, including the CRISPR-Cas9 foundational technology for genetic integration in mammalian cells.

Merck recognizes that the growing potential of genome-editing technologies has led to scientific, legal, and societal concerns and therefore supports research with genome editing under careful consideration of ethical and legal standards. The company has established an independent, external Bioethics Advisory Panel to provide guidance for research in which its businesses are involved, including research on or using genome editing and has developed, defined and transparently published a clear Genome-Editing Technology Principle taking into account scientific and societal issues to inform promising therapeutic approaches for use in research applications.

The Life Science business is actively licensing its CRISPR technology for therapeutic and other uses and is seeking collaboration partners for research and product development.

About Merck

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 58,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2019, Merck generated sales of €16.2 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science and EMD Performance Materials.