MilliporeSigma, the life science business of Merck KGaA, said today it has been awarded its first patent for CRISPR technology—an Australian patent relating to the use of CRISPR in a genomic integration method for eukaryotic cells.

The patent issued by the Australian Patent Office covers chromosomal integration or cutting of the chromosomal sequence of eukaryotic cells, and insertion of an external or donor DNA sequence into those cells using CRISPR.

Patent Application No. 2013355214 was filed December 5, 2013, and accepted on May 22, according to an online search of the Australian Patent Office’s online database AusPat. The patent consists of 14 method claims.

MilliporeSigma says the CRISPR genomic integration technology is designed to enable researchers to replace a disease-associated mutation with a beneficial or functional sequence, a method important for creation of disease models and gene therapy. Researchers can also use the method to insert transgenes that label endogenous proteins for visual tracking within cells.

“This patent decision recognizes our expertise in CRISPR technology—a body of knowledge that we are committed to grow,” MilliporeSigma CEO Udit Batra said in a statement.

MilliporeSigma has filed for patents covering its insertion CRISPR method in the U.S., as well as in Europe, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Israel, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

The Australian Patent Office website also lists six applications covering CRISPR claims, by applicants that include Cellectis, CRISPR Therapeutics, The Johns Hopkins University, MIT and the Broad Institute, Moderna Therapeutics, and the Regents of the University of Colorado.

MilliporeSigma said in May that it had developed the alternative CRISPR genome-editing method, called proxy-CRISPR, a month after publishing the results of its research in Nature Communications. According to the company, proxy-CRISPR differs from other genome editing systems in its ability to cut previously unreachable cell locations, making CRISPR more efficient, flexible, and specific, and giving researchers more experimental options.

Since 2012, MilliporeSigma has filed multiple CRISPR patent filings, including its filings related to proxy-CRISPR technology.

The company has been involved in genome editing for 14 years, having been the first company to offer custom biomolecules for genome editing globally (TargeTron™ RNA-guided group II introns and CompoZr™ zinc finger nucleases). MilliporeSigma was also first to manufacture arrayed CRISPR libraries covering the entire human genome.

Later this year, MilliporeSigma is expected to launch its next suite of genome editing tools for the research community, to include novel and modified versions of Cas and Cas-like proteins.

MilliporeSigma is the combined life sciences tools and technologies company formed in 2015 when Merck KGaA completed its $17 billion acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich.

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