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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

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.