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Old 04-14-2013, 03:11 PM
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Human Gene Patentability Case Heads To Supreme Court

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Soon after learning that his son had autism, Hollywood producer Jon Shestack ("Air Force One") tried to get researchers investigating the genetic causes of the disorder to pool their DNA samples, the better to identify genes most likely to cause that disorder. But his approach to scientists at universities across the country in the late 1990s hit a brick wall: They refused to join forces, much less share the DNA.

"Each thought they needed to hold on to it to publish and patent," Shestack said in an interview. "This seemed criminal to us."

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents on at least 4,000 human genes to companies, universities and others that have discovered and decoded them. Patents now cover some 40 percent of the human genome, according to a scientific study led by Christopher Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College. But if foes of gene patents have their way, that percentage could be rolled back to zero.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that calls into question whether human DNA can be claimed as intellectual property, and remain off limits to everyone without the permission of the patent holder.

The lawsuit, filed in 2009 by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation, challenges seven patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc on two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. A federal judge said the patents were invalid. An appeals court overruled that decision, and the case landed in the Supreme Court.

The legal issues center on whether the genes that Myriad patented, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, are natural phenomena. The ACLU says human DNA is a product of nature, and as such not patentable under the Patent Act. Myriad argues that its patents are for genes that have been "isolated," which makes them products of human ingenuity and, therefore, patentable.

As scholars debate the legal questions, two parallel issues have emerged: whether patenting genes thwarts scientific research, and whether it harms patients.

A coalition of researchers, genetic counselors, cancer survivors, breast cancer support groups, and scientific associations representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists and laboratory professionals argue that gene patents can be problematic on both counts. The American Medical Association, the American Society of Human Genetics, the March of Dimes and even James Watson (co-discoverer, in 1953, of the double helix), among others, have filed briefs asking the court to invalidate Myriad's patents on genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2.

On the other side are Myriad and industry groups such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Animal Health Institute, which say that if gene patenting is ruled invalid, companies - with no guarantee they could profit from their discoveries - would stop investing in genetics research, to the detriment not only of patients but the economy.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...n_3081399.html

What are your thoughts?
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:02 PM
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And there lies the problem as to why we don't have as many cures to serious diseases nowadays.

The moment we turned health and curring diseases into a multi billion dollar business, then it is always going to be a matter of "our company against theirs"

If it was just matter of people getting their wages but what they did get was qudos for their work and not some fat cats profiting, them we would be much further along with cures.

Back to this article, I think it is wrong to try to patent something that has always been part of me, the only difference being that man has advanced far enough to find some genome structure that has always been there.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by G10 View Post
I think it is wrong to try to patent something that has always been part of me, the only difference being that man has advanced far enough to find some genome structure that has always been there.
I agree with you G10, and I have observed that more progress and discoveries there are and less people have access to them because only the wealthy people will get the better health care.

Perhaps our health care system is one of the best in the world, but there are still reducing reimbursements and focus more on generic medications. As far as the consultation rates, the government control them and if they are not controlled, then you have to pay from your own pocket.
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