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UC Berkeley announced Tuesday it received a patent for a single-molecule guide RNA that can be used with the Cas-9 enzyme by the gene-editing tool CRISPR in plants, bacteria and mammalian cells.

Why it matters: Discovering new methods of making CRISPR's gene editing more precise are key to its future success in modifying crops and treating diseases. But, there's also a race among institutions — especially between UC and the Broad Institute — to own CRISPR patents that are potentially worth billions, per Reuters.

Background: CRISPR can use different enzymes, most often Cas9, to target specific genes for editing, but there remain safety concerns, as it's been shown to sometimes cause unwanted deletions, edit the wrong genes or move genes around. Guide RNAs can be used to locate the proper DNA sequence that needs to be cut.

By the numbers: This is UC Berkeley's third CRISPR patent and they expect a fourth to be issued soon.

"This is another foundational patent that reflects the significant contribution that [Jennifer] Doudna, [Emmanuelle] Charpentier, and their team brought to the field," Eldora Ellison, lead patent strategist on CRISPR matters for UCB, tells Axios.

Details, per Ellison:

  • U.S. Patent Number 10,227,611, covers single-molecule guide RNAs that can be used in every cell type, not only plants and bacteria but also mammalian ones.
  • It's co-owned by the University of California, the University of Vienna and Charpentier.
  • This patent was not involved in the previous interference proceeding before the USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Go deeper: UC Berkeley team awarded second CRISPR-Cas9 patent

Go deeper

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 6 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest setback in the Biden administration's rollout of COVID vaccine requirements. Federal judges in two states temporarily barred the administration from enforcing mandates for millions of workers last week.

Biden threatens Putin

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."