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Penn State Licenses Genome Editing Tech to Inscripta

NEW YORK – Penn State’s licensing entity, the Penn State Research Foundation, said last week that it has licensed a genome editing technology developed by one of the university's researchers to Inscripta.

The Penn State CRISPR-Cas9 technology enables the simultaneous use of multiple guide RNAs (gRNAs), allowing researchers to target several genes at once.

"The need for simultaneous expression of multiple gRNAs was a bottleneck that prevented us from realizing the full potential of CRISPR technology," Yinong Yang, a professor of plant pathology who developed the technology, said in a statement.

Yang developed the new system by hijacking rice cells' normal transfer RNA (tRNA) processing system. He has since applied the method, which reaches up to 100 percent efficiency, to cultured human cells, fungi, and other plant species, including tomato, potato, and Arabidopsis.

"Because the tRNA-processing system exists in virtually all organisms, this strategy has been used broadly by many researchers to enhance CRISPR-based multiplex genome editing in plants, animals, humans and microbes for agricultural, medical and industrial biotech applications," Yang said.

Inscripta plans to explore the technology with its MAD7 nuclease to improve the gene editing efficiency of certain applications of its Onyx digital genome engineering platform, used to analyze thousands of gene edits in parallel.

Inscripta recently granted a nonexclusive license for MAD7 to Hunterian Medicine.

Penn State has also licensed its new CRISPR technology, for which it has obtained both US and foreign patents, to "a major agribiotech company" for applications in crop improvement.