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ERS Genomics Licenses CRISPR Patents to Otsuka Pharmaceutical

NEW YORK – ERS Genomics said on Wednesday that it has granted Japanese drug maker Otsuka Pharmaceutical a license to its CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio, which Otsuka said it will use for its internal research and development programs to address areas of unmet medical need.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dublin-based ERS Genomics was founded to provide access to CRISPR-Cas9 intellectual property held by Emmanuelle Charpentier. The IP is shared between her, Jennifer Doudna and the University of California, and the University of Vienna and is separate from genome editing patents held by the Broad Institute.

Otsuka sells a variety of medications in the US including the antipsychotic medications aripiprazole (Abilify) and brexpiprazole (Rexulti), as well as decitabine (Dacogen), a treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes. In Japan, the company also sells consumer products, such as the CalorieMate brand of nutritional energy bar and energy gel foods, a sports drink called Pocari Sweat, and a carbonated beverage called Oronamin C Drink (named after the firm's popular Oronine H Ointment), among other products.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to provide Otsuka with access to the CRISPR-Cas9 license. We hope this brings significant value to Otsuka as it applies the technology to its internal programs," ERS CEO Eric Rhodes said in a statement.

ERS signed two similar licensing deals for its CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio in February. One was with contract research organization ZeClinics, which will use the technology to create single-knockout, double-knockout, and somatic F0 knockout zebrafish variants for use as disease models. The other was with South Korean biotechnology company G+FLAS Life Sciences, which will use it to provide services and tools as well as to develop drugs and produce genome edited plants.