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The Global mRNA Patent Frenzy
Massive Multinational Investment in mRNA Technology Signifies Global Impetus to Find Viable Applications
By Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH
I hear from time to time that someone claims to have “invented mRNA” so I found this paper by Li et al interesting. The authors used a series of search terms related to “mRNA vaccine” to search the titles, abstracts, and claims in the Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI) for patents with a publication date prior to December 31, 2021.
A total of 9,613 patent documents were collected to carry out the statistical analysis. Expired or lapsed patents from failure to pay patent maintenance fees were found to account for 13.49% of invalid patents and 6.04% of all patents. Over a period of 60 years, mRNA vaccine patent publication exhibited a rising trend as a whole: it entered a take–off stage in 1994, increasing from 15 patents filed in 1994 to 892 filings in 2021 (Figure 1a). Notably, a substantial increase was present since 2019.
The United States played an important role engaging in collaborative studies with 85% of countries working with mRNA. In fact, the United States HHS ranked 6th in the world as an mRNA patent assignee.
Startups BioNTech in 2008 and Moderna in 2010 also accelerated the development of the industry. In 2012, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) commenced funding industry research into mRNA vaccines. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are now competing to develop mRNA vaccines.
The most frequently cited patient in the field is EP1083232 by Jung et al assigned to Curevac SE. This is followed by patients US20080025944, US20050250723, US20050059624 US20080171711 by Hoerr et al, assigned to Cure Vac GmbH, Curevac SE. With so many patents and countries, thousands of investigators and labs can say they contributed to the development of this technology.
In summary, no single person can claim he or she “invented mRNA.” A more reasonable conclusion is that mRNA is big business for the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex which is heavily driven by the US government. The COVID-19 vaccine debacle as thrown a wrench into the mRNA aspirations of the Complex. It will be interesting to see their next move since both safety and efficacy failed miserably with mRNA commercialized by Pfizer and Moderna.
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Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH
President, McCullough Foundation