Gene silencing technique gets patent

An important discovery in modern molecular biology is that double-stranded RNA can quash the activity of specific genes in plants, animals, and fungi. In 1997, Dr. Andrew Fire of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Dr. Craig Mello of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and their team found that by specially designing RNA with two strands they could silence targeted genes. Their discovery, called RNA interference (RNAi) was recently patented (US Patent 6,506,559 B1), and it has been widely licensed in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.