The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Rockefeller University, Harvard University, and MIT have granted permission for 22 of their CRISPR-Cas9 patents to be considered to be a part of a shared, global licensing platform.  

“The move comes amid growing concerns that the logjam over rights to the technology may hinder breakthroughs in disease treatment,” commented The Wall Street Journal.

Chief business officer of the Broad Institute, Issi Rozen, said, “We look forward to working with others to ensure the widest possible access to all key CRISPR intellectual property.”

Groups that want to commercialise CRISPR technology are often required to go to more than one institution for licensing, according to the Broad’s statement, given that there are 18 different organisation in the U.S. that hold more than 60 CRISPR-Cas9 patents, a pool would provide the perfect answer to this, by acting as “a one-stop shop for commercial users.”

MPEG LA LLC, the firm licensing the pool, initiated the collaboration when it invited all patent holders to take part in their non-exclusive initiative in April. “Pooling the foundational CRISPR patent rights under a single nonexclusive, cost-effective, transparent license will allow the market to focus on the creation of new products and therapies that accelerate and expand CRISPR’s deployment,” said MPEG LA President and CEO Larry Horn in a press release.

Prior to this, Horn had previously argued that a pool such as this “would expand and accelerate commercialisation of CRISPR-based products and therapies by providing developers easy access to a package of essential patent rights in a single licensing transaction.”

Despite this, there is a still a debate among experts as to whether the patient pool in hand will be feasible. In response to Horn’s proclamations, legal experts Jacob Sherkow of New York Law School and Jorge Contreras of the University of Utah, explained, “because patent pools do not lend themselves to exclusive licensing, even when commercially desirable in narrow fields, we question whether patent pooling for CRISPR would ultimately be successful,” given that companies bearing the brunt of development costs can only survive if they control the market for period of time.

The Wall Street Journal continued, “Among the open questions is how a patent pool that aims to create a streamlined, standardised license will also allow for enough exclusivity so that companies will invest in drug development.”

Whilst this is a promising move, it will be interesting to see how willing other institutions will be in coming forward with said information in the near future. This is definitely one we will be keeping our eye on.