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. 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. More than 20 percent of the human genome is currently patented in some way. When genes are patented by responsible scientists who have discovered their existence, it is easier to check on their use and misuse, as it is the owners of these genes that are responsible for the effects of these where-ever they are used. Opinion: Why Our Genes Should Not Be Patented. “These genes have existed for a long time, and you and I have no possessor right to them,” Koepsell said. Newton discovered the law of gravity; he did not invent it. Researchers in the 1980s pinpointed two kinds of genetic mutations that dramatically increase the odds of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Those of us who carry the mutations have hoped that our children would have better options, but Myriad is actively blocking work that promises to provide treatments, if not cures. He had the mutation and developed breast cancer. In 1998, a former University of Buffalo professor founded the private company Celera, which became a private competitor to the public Human Genome Project, said Koepsell, who is a professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. For instance, those suspected of carrying a BRCA mutation currently have but one source of testing in the U.S.: Myriad Genetics. This program aired on April 3, 2012. The 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 on Friday. 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. Only the way genes are used, with a particular technology, can be patented. 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 … 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 . Myriad argues that courts must uphold its claims because it has done nothing more than to follow previously established patent laws. 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. For my dad, the result was retrospectively predictive. If genes were not patented all biotechnological research groups would have a free hand to manipulate genes as they wished. It impedes scientific research, which requires that scientists replicate the gene they wish to study, he said. 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. By the fall of 1998, I’d had elective surgery to remove my thus-far cancer-free breasts and ovaries. 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. But Myriad wasn’t and isn’t the only outfit with the capacity to test for BRCA mutations. Families with histories of any number of inherited diseases — from heart failure to diabetes to mental illness to autoimmune disorders – will increasingly share their DNA with researchers looking for genetic clues. The ACLU further charged that the BRCA gene patents limit women’s access to the genetic screening because of its cost and that Myriad's monopoly on the test prevents women from getting a second opinion. “Laws of patent are meant to be used to protect inventions — things that engineers are doing — not things that scientist discover,” Koepsell said. 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. Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health ReporterRachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix. 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. We learned that we are both BRCA carriers. Craig Venter, Celera’s founder, and other scientists working for the company developed a new technology for the rapid sequencing of genes. You can’t patent human genes. Koepsell pointed out several problems with these patented genes, which is the subject of his new book, Who Owns You? Researchers, geneticists, and the American Civil Liberties Union asked justices on the Supreme Court to reconsider an appellate court’s ruling that upheld Myriad’s patent of the genetic material. 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. April 03, 2012. This article is more than 8 years old. No, genes should not be patented. on a side note, maybe that's part of why breast cancer gets so much publicity. The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes. Some companies favor the notion of patenting genes but this is against the basic idea of patenting an invention, not … Rachel Zimmerman. Along with the rest of the nation, I was on pins and needles last week listening to arguments in front of the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of “Obamacare.” I was also holding my breath, waiting for the decision the justices delivered last week concerning a challenge to Myriad’s monopoly on BRCA DNA and BRCA testing. There haven’t been options aside from anxious, watchful waiting and radical surgery. I take this personally. "because human genes are unique and convey information about the essence of being human, they should not be patented" (sic) Being human is a rather ephemeral concept to grapple with, especially for patent attorneys who are so used to concrete characterizations such as claims, but it is not one which should be lightly dismissed, or in the case of the first quotation above, ignored.


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