The European Patent Office has confirmed the Institut Pasteur in its rights over an important technology, based on an innovative use of homologous recombination. The European patent, granted as no. 419621, was licensed to the Institut Pasteur's spin-off company, Cellectis. It covers applications in the areas of production of recombinant proteins, gene therapy, and the production of animal models.
In 1989, within Professor François Jacob’s laboratory, researchers Philippe Brûlet and Hervé Le Mouellic from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS discovered an innovative methodology for modulating gene expression in eukaryotic cells.
In particular, patent applications have been registered in the USA, Japan, and Europe.
After examination by different offices, the patents have been granted. In Europe, the patent was attacked by several companies who had tried to protect their work in the same fields as the Institut Pasteur, and whose competing patents were rejected by the EPO.
On appeal on 3 December 2004, the European Office recognised the significance and value of the invention made at the Institut Pasteur by deciding to confirm patent no. 419621, changing the wording of certain claims in ways that preserve the force of the patent, particularly for the production of proteins intended for therapeutic purposes.
This patent was licensed in June 2000 to Cellectis, a spin-off of the Institut Pasteur, which now pursues the development of powerful tools for genome engineering and a new therapeutic approach using genome surgery by meganucleases. Cellectis has also concluded sublicensing agreements of paramount importance with agro-chemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies using this technology either to improve organisms of interest, to develop animal models, or to produce proteins with a therapeutic effect.
This invention, whose usefulness in public health has been proven, should be a source of income that will permit the Institut Pasteur to finance future research.
The Institut Pasteur is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to biomedical research, public health, and education. Nearly 2,600 people work at its Paris campus, where a large part of the research focuses on infectious diseases. Throughout the world, 29 Instituts Pasteur are spread out across five continents, bringing together 9,000 people.