Food, health and IP rights – CRISPR latest news

Two papers and a news item not to be missed. The first one is “Genome-edited powdery mildew resistance in wheat without growth penalties” published in Nature by a Chinese team led by Caixia Gao.

To sum up, the problem with traditional breeding is that the susceptibility gene is associated with growth traits, and thus deleting it brings yield losses. Problem solved with the power of CRISPR (and a bit of serendipity!), by editing several targets simultaneously.

“Reversing insecticide resistance with allelic-drive in Drosophila melanogaster was published in Nature Communications by the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society. Researchers from Bangalore and San Diego used CRISPR-based gene drives to replace an insecticide-resistant gene and re-sensitize insects in the lab. They did it in fruit flies but are confident that the approach will work as well in malaria-spreading mosquitoes.

In “New CRISPR patent hearing continues high-stakes legal battle” Science journalist Jon Cohen reports the latest news from the US Patent Office. Hot issues being debated are: did Feng Zhang improperly get early CRISPR information from a collaborator who reviewed the paper by Doudna and Charpentier? and who did invent the guide-RNA that makes CRISPR work in eukaryotic cells?

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