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Researcher observing a CRISPR-Cas9 process through a stereomicroscope. Photo: Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images

A UC Berkeley-led research team was awarded a patent Tuesday for unique RNA guides that work with the Cas9 protein to target and cut genes via the gene-editing tool, CRISPR.

Why it matters: With money rapidly flowing into CRISPR-related technology and experiments, patents surrounding its use are expected to be lucrative, particularly in fields on genetic diseases and food security. UC Berkeley recently lost its battle with Broad Institute-MIT-Harvard in the Federal Circuit for what some call the most important patent regarding CRISPR, but it now has 2 CRISPR patents approved, with more expected.

"Today’s news ... represents yet another validation of the historic and field-changing breakthrough invented by scientists Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and their team... The patent announced today specifically highlights the CRISPR-Cas9 invention’s ability to edit DNA in any setting, including within animal and human cells. It also highlights its utility in several formats across both dual-RNA and single-RNA configurations, useful for therapy for genetic diseases and for improving food security."
— Edward Penhoet, special adviser to the UC Berkeley chancellor, tells Axios

The details: According to the patent, the compositions can be used in animal or human cells, and can work as either 2 separate pieces of RNA or a single piece of RNA.

  • Penhoet says the new patent covers 2 RNA components that together form the "DNA-targeting-RNA," with one that targets the particular sequence of DNA needed to be edited and the other that binds with the Cas9 protein.
  • This follows another patent given to UC Berkeley in June on methods to use CRISPR-cas9.
  • The patents cover the composites used by CRISPR-Cas9 within human, plant, animal and bacteria cells.
  • Both allow the use of strands of RNA "that can be shorter than naturally-occurring RNA components. This allows them to be more easily used and, therefore, is a form often preferred," Penhoet says.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
21 mins ago - World

Biden's blinking red lights: Taiwan, Ukraine and Iran

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Russia is menacing Ukraine’s borders, China is sending increasingly ominous signals over Taiwan and Iran is accelerating its uranium enrichment to unprecedented levels.

The big picture: Ukraine, Taiwan and Iran’s nuclear program always loomed large on the menu of potential crises President Biden could face. But over the last several days, the lights have been blinking red on all three fronts all at once.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two with the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two "assault rifles" believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI told news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.