The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes. I weighed my options and rolled the dice. Catherine Corman and her father are both BRCA carriers. Researchers in the 1980s pinpointed two kinds of genetic mutations that dramatically increase the odds of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Some believe that genes, which are the building blocks of human life, should not be considered as "products" to be patented or marketed because it shows a blatant disregard for humanity. I take this personally. My father had a radical mastectomy in 1975. Myriad argues that courts must uphold its claims because it has done nothing more than to follow previously established patent laws. I thought that was what caused research to be so shitty on breast cancer, at least in the US. He’d visited a general surgeon to check an eraser-sized lump he’d noticed in his left “breast,” which turned out to be malignant. On January 2001, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) issued its guidelines for patents on genes and proved me wrong.. For me, a healthy 37-year-old mother of young triplets, the implications weren’t so clear. If a scientist patents a gene, replicating the gene violates the patent. He said Celera “justly deserves” a patent for its rapid-sequencing technology, but because they are not inventing the genes, only discovering them, they should not be able to patent the genes. The audio for this program is not available. on a side note, maybe that's part of why breast cancer gets so much publicity. For instance, those suspected of carrying a BRCA mutation currently have but one source of testing in the U.S.: Myriad Genetics. They named these mutations BRCA 1 and 2. The courts have also allowed Myriad to stop researchers from moving genetic treatments into human populations that effectively wipe out BRCA-related tumors in mice. He had the mutation and developed breast cancer. This article is more than 8 years old. This might bring good news or bad for those of us carrying BRCA mutations, but, in any case, the implications of the decision will reach far beyond the small number of us genetically predisposed to reproductive cancers. Some companies favor the notion of patenting genes but this is against the basic idea of patenting an invention, not … The Globe argued that “Congress should seek to devise new rules through a panel of experts” rather than allow the courts to determine the future of Myriad’s claims under U.S. genetic patent laws. trying to support research = paying royalties for using the data. The justices sent the case back to the appellate court and asked it to revisit its decision in light of a related case. For my dad, the result was retrospectively predictive. You can’t patent human genes. He’d visited a general surgeon to check an eraser-sized lump he’d noticed in his left “breast,” which turned out to be malignant. Should any of my children have inherited the BRCA mutation, they will have no better options than I – and not because scientists aren’t finding them. Newton discovered the law of gravity; he did not invent it. Patenting of specific human genes constitutes a threat to basic science and should not be allowed, a legal scholar and ethicist said at the Law School recently. No, genes should not be patented. Koepsell also argued that genes should not be patentable in the first place because of the distinction between inventions and laws of nature. Since patents give the owners intellectual property rights on the patented genome sequence for 17 to 20 years, many people fear that gene patents hinder research. See the original on-line article . The human genome continues to be a subject of interest as more and more research shows that people metabolize drugs differently based on their individual genetic makeup, he said. The paradox of modern genetic testing has been the uncertainty of what to do with the results. Opinion: Why Our Genes Should Not Be Patented . In 1990, work on the international Human Genome Project began with the aim of mapping the human genome. In November 2010, when the appellate court overturned a ruling in plaintiffs favor, several major newspapers, including The Boston Globe, published unsigned editorials responding to the weight of these patent precedents. I strong-armed my father into taking the test and held my breath as we waited for results. Laws that apply in other business models don’t make sense when it comes to human health. Myriad’s monopoly on this small slice of human DNA defies reason. Humans “have only 30,000 genes, so the fact that there are now 8,000 of those genes or more that are patented is a significant number,” David Koepsell said during a talk sponsored by the Health Law Association. Others say that banning patenting actually protects the public investment into genome research, which could become wasted if private companies stifle attempts to research into genes on which they hold a … Only the way genes are used, with a particular technology, can be patented. Celera’s shareholders pushed for more profit than what the company was making selling its rapid-sequencing technology, Koepsell said. Opinion: Why Our Genes Should Not Be Patented. The ACLU suit claims that patents on human genes violate the First Amendment and patent law because genes are "products of nature" and therefore can't be patented. Craig Venter, Celera’s founder, and other scientists working for the company developed a new technology for the rapid sequencing of genes. Patenting of specific human genes constitutes a threat to basic science and should not be allowed, a legal scholar and ethicist said at the Law School recently. April 03, 2012. More than 20 percent of the human genome is currently patented in some way. After examining the existing case law, attorneys at Celera decided that the company could begin patenting the genes that its scientists discovered. In addition, the company has legally been able to exclude a critical BRCA sub-test from its insurance-covered “comprehensive” battery – denying families without ready cash a chance to gain results that could safeguard their health.


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