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Merck KGaA, Promega enter CRISPR licensing deal

MERCK KGaA has entered a license agreement to provide Promega Corp. access to its intellectual property relating to CRISPR gene-editing technology to create research products and services.

Madison, Wis.-based Promega plans to use the technology to develop CRISPR-edited cell lines, which play a major role in determining the efficacy and toxicity of potential treatments during the drug development cycle. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

CRISPR technology uses a derived protein or enzyme system to cut and then revise, remove or replace certain DNA sequences.

The Cas9 protein is most commonly used in CRISPR gene editing. It was discovered by Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier of the University of Vienna in 2011. The technology deploys RNA to guide the Cas9 enzyme to a specific target DNA sequence, which the enzyme then cuts. Following that, the cell can be altered and repaired.

Merck holds 22 patents worldwide related to CRISPR methods and composition, including the CRISPR Cas9 for use in genetic integration in mammalian cells.

Earlier in November, Merck entered a license agreement providing Evotec SE access to its CRISPR technology.

Privately held Promega manufactures reagents and instrumentations to help life scientists offering products in the areas of cell biology.