CRISPR patent appealed

The University of California, Berkeley, and collaborators are contesting the US Patent and Trademark Offices Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)’s February decision that their own patent application on CRISPR gene-editing technology does not overlap with a patent owned by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard .

“Ultimately, we expect to establish definitively that the team led by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier was the first to engineer CRISPR-Cas9 for use in all types of environments, including in non-cellular settings and within plant, animal and even human cells,” Edward Penhoet, associate dean of biology at UC Berkeley, said in a statement.
 
“Given that the facts have not changed, we expect the outcome will once again be the same,” Lee McGuire, chief communications officer at the Broad, said in a statement. “To overturn the PTAB decision, the Court would need to decide that the PTAB committed an error of law or lacked substantial evidence to reach its decision. Given the careful and extensive factual findings in the PTAB’s decision, this seems unlikely.”

CRISPR-based nucleic acid test created

Researchers at Harvard University and the Broad Institute have developed a CRISPR-based diagnostic tool that can decipher Zika virus from dengue, differentiate among bacterial pathogens, and identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms in human DNA. The team described its approach in Science this week (April 13).

DMD mutations corrected with CRISPR

With a different type of CRISPR gene editing, scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have successfully corrected Duchenne muscular dystrophy–causing mutations in cultured human muscle cells and in a mouse model. The team published its results in Science Advances this week (April 12). 

Potential Parkinson’s disease therapy tested in mice

When scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and their colleagues reprogrammed glial cells into dopaminergic neurons in the brains of mice exhibiting Parkinson’s-like symptoms, they observed partially restored motor function in the animals. The team published its results in Nature Biotechnology this week (April 10).

Neural correlates of dreaming better defined

In Nature Neuroscience, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and their colleagues this week (April 10) pinpointed dreaming-associated patterns of brainwave activity in an area of the brain dubbed the “posterior hot zone.”

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Mouse gut microbes, aging, and inflammation linked

In mice, aging-related changes in gut microbiome composition are causally linked to intestinal permeability and levels of inflammation, researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and their colleagues showed in Cell Host & Microbe this week (April 12).
 

Other news in life science

A committee says an independent organization designed to foster research integrity would stem misconduct.
 
An independent review of Canadian science reveals a need for additional funds to investigator-led, basic research.
 
Mark Wainberg, a professor of biology and virology at McGill University, has passed away unexpectedly at age 71.
 
Aerial survey results reveal severe coral bleaching across much of the massive reef system.
 
In a preprint, a PhD student examines freely available SciHub usage data.