Recently, there has been a growing interest in CRISPR gene-editing technologies. CRISPRs are “memories” found in archaea and bacteria that help protect the body against pathogens. Such gene-editing technologies are promising because they are simpler to use than other gene-editing technologies and have the potential to fight cancer, increase crop yield and reverse organ damage. Due to this increasing interest, many companies are patenting CRISPR gene-editing technologies in various jurisdictions. Today, China granted MilliporeSigma a patent for its “chromosomal integration” CRISPR technology.
This grant comes at a particularly interesting time. On April 19 2018, the State Council of China expressed its desire to increase the importation of foreign “innovative” drugs into China. Several proposed mechanisms to achieve this goal included stronger intellectual property protections for such medicines, customs exemptions and making it easier to commercialize such products. Granting a patent for efficient gene-editing technologies seems to be related to China’s broader legal and policy objectives.
With all this in mind, it will be interesting to see the number of patents China grants this year and what subject-matter will be protected by such patents.