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Myriad Genetics has patented the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 that help control the progression of breast cancer. Myriad is among the companies that curently "own" 20 percent of the human genome.  (Source: AU-KBC RESEARCH CENTRE)

Myriad makes breast cancer detection tests. It has blocked universities from researching the important gene, and blocked competitors from developing test kits, making it impossible to get a second opinion on the test. The ACLU is challenging the legality of patenting the human genome in a major court battle.  (Source: SureTouch)
Should biotech firms be able to patent genes, block medical tests and university research on grounds of "ownership"?

A pivotal lawsuit launched early 2009 when the American Civil Liberties Union sued biotech firm Myriad Genome.  Currently the precedent in U.S. patent law is that you can not patent natural phenomena.  You can not patent gold, you can not patent the force of gravity, you can not patent the formula energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.  And yet, 20 percent of the human genome has indeed been patented, in what critics argue is a further sign of the slippage of the U.S. patent and copyright system.

Genome patents began about 30 years in the U.S. (following an important 1980 ruling), and have also been ongoing in other nations, as well.  Basic rules state that the human genome itself should not be patentable; it must be transfected (take out of the cell) and modified to be sufficiently different from nature's designs before its patentable.

However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lately has been slipping -- and that's where the ACLU comes in.  Myriad was granted patents in 1997 and 2000 on the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, genes also linked to ovarian cancer.  Myriad did virtually nothing to modify these genes -- it just took them out, observed them and filed a patent.

The ACLU's legal team is fired up about this.  Myriad manufactures kits to test for breast cancer based on genetic profiles -- it claims without the patent it would never have been able to finance these tests and bring them to market.  However, Myriad is also using its patent to legally blocking other companies from deploying similar tests, essentially making it impossible to get a second opinion or alternative to the somewhat expensive $4,000 test.  Myriad is also using the patent to block breast cancer research at a university level.

The ACLU asserts that this case illustrates the folly in patenting any of the human genome, a pivotal part of life.  It has called for both Myriad's patents to be undone and for a ruling that would essentially roll back all human genome patents.

The ACLU has many powerful allies in the case.  The American Medical Association, the association representing doctors across the U.S. backs the ACLU in this case.  Numerous university and research organizations, tired of having to pay licensing fees to research patented genes, also have offered support.  Some universities have been denied the right to research the naturally occurring gene.

States Kenneth I. Berns, M.D., Ph.D., Editor in Chief of the peer reviewed journal, Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers,  "Patenting of human genes is a bad idea and that healthcare in the U.S. would be enhanced if the ACLU suit prevails."

John Sterling, Editor in Chief of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), comments, "This is going to turn into one of the watershed events in the evolution of the bioindustry. The pros and cons of patenting genes have been an ongoing, and often acrimonious series of debates, since the in re Chakrabarty decision in 1980. But this particular case seems to have taken on a life of its own with over fifteen plaintiffs. For while the lawsuit specifically centers on the patentability of two cancer-related genes, the ACLU says it plans to challenge the entire concept of patenting genes. What we have here is one group, the ACLU and its allies, contending that gene patents stifle life science research and potentially harm the health of thousands of patients. On the other side are biotech companies who maintain that without gene patents research incentives are seriously diminished and innovation is smothered."

Mr. Sterling hits on a key point -- the ACLU is challenging all patents on the human genome, not just gunning for Myriad's.  The biotech industry is blasting this stance, stating that it would ruin them financially and punish companies who do significantly alter human genes for therapeutic purposes.  William Warren, partner at the Sutherland law firm supports this stance, stating, "The ACLU unexpectedly based its invalidity challenge on claims to unpatentable subject matter.  The ACLU might have instead considered challenging the Myriad patents for obviousness."

This week both the USPTO (which the ACLU is suing) and Myriad requested summary judgment -- for a judge to rule on the case before it reaches court.  The ACLU's lawyers had previously filed for summary judgment as well.  There's no guarantees, though, that the judge will grant both parties' request and deliver a ruling.

Regardless of the outcome, the ACLU says it plans to continue to fight the legality of patenting the human genome.  States Chris Hansen, one of the ACLU lawyers handling the case, "Gene patents defy common sense. If you’re at a cocktail party and you tell people human genes are patented, almost everyone will say that can’t be right."




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Whatever happens...
By Newspapercrane on 1/22/2010 9:26:17 AM , Rating: 5
...I better not have to pay royalties.




RE: Whatever happens...
By nglessner on 1/22/2010 9:40:38 AM , Rating: 5
Oh, but you will. If you (or your wife) would ever develop breast cancer, the first thing your doctor will do is order a BRCA test. If you have family history, your dr might order a test for both. Regardless of good insurance you WILL be paying a premium because these GREEDY bastards patented something that is in your genes. I call BS that they wouldn't have been able to afford the research without being able to corner the market via patent. How many people out there are trying to cure cancer (and not just for the payday!)?? Maybe I'm naive but I would think that there are quite a few.


RE: Whatever happens...
By geddarkstorm on 1/22/2010 2:29:58 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I call BS that they wouldn't have been able to afford the research without being able to corner the market via patent.


Exactly. Because, where did these other companies without the patents get their money to try to bring similar tests to market then? If you had to have the patents to afford making the tests.. well.. someone didn't tell the competition that was a requirement, now did they?


RE: Whatever happens...
By NagoyaX on 1/23/2010 11:19:53 AM , Rating: 2
Thank God I live in Canada.
Hopefully our patient office would never let something this stupid go though


RE: Whatever happens...
By Durrr on 1/23/2010 3:13:11 PM , Rating: 2
So, Canadian patent clerks are somehow different from US patent clerks, or UK patent clerks? lol


RE: Whatever happens...
By B3an on 1/25/2010 1:27:13 PM , Rating: 3
Well the american patent system is one of the most retarded things on this panet.


RE: Whatever happens...
By asthion on 1/24/2010 2:12:21 AM , Rating: 1
I'm sorry but that is a ridiculous statement. I have yet to order a BRCA test on a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient as part of their management. I would order a estrogen/progesterone receptor and her-2/neu gene assessment to determine if a specific class of drugs is useful for that patient and what their prognosis is. The BRCA gene assessment is only useful for the proband's family members (i.e. sisters and daughters) and only if there a strong history of breast and/or ovarian cancer and a history of young patients developing cancer.


RE: Whatever happens...
By ZHENDHIDE4 on 1/28/2010 8:44:31 PM , Rating: 1
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RE: Whatever happens...
By djc208 on 1/22/2010 9:59:00 AM , Rating: 2
Why not, you could have billions of copies of those patented genes in your body, and this company owns the patent on those genes. So not only do you have to pay them but it means you probably also have breast cancer. But for only $4000 extra they can test to prove it.


RE: Whatever happens...
By mcnabney on 1/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Whatever happens...
By yomamafor1 on 1/22/2010 10:54:18 AM , Rating: 5
...so the closest similarity does support the patent holders.

Actually a closer analogy would be the atom. Atom is the basis of all matter, similar yo how gene is the basis of all lives. You cannot patent the atom given that its the natural occurring phenomena, similar to genes. I don't think you can even "patent" man-made elements, so why can companies patent (and in turn profit from, or prevent studies of) genes?

I believe it will be years before this whole mess can be sorted out.


RE: Whatever happens...
By stromgald30 on 1/22/2010 12:23:59 PM , Rating: 2
You can't patent man-made elements, but you can patent methods of creating those elements. You can also patent chemical formulas (e.g. drugs) that serve a specific purpose. This is where things get blurry. Where exactly does a man-made genome (modified sufficiently from nature) fall in "patent-ability" spectrum?


RE: Whatever happens...
By yomamafor1 on 1/22/2010 2:04:31 PM , Rating: 1
You indeed can patent chemical formulas, similar to companies can patent genes that were engineered to give an organism features that it does not normally have in nature. But you simply can't say, "I'm going to patent the gene itself".


RE: Whatever happens...
By TSS on 1/22/2010 4:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's very easy to sort out. Genomes make a human beeing a human beeing. You cannot patent a human beeing! Not as a whole nor part of it, any part of it. Even if you where to create an artificial human beeing, you may patent the methods used to do so, but not the human beeing (AKA the genomes).

It'll take years because we are using lawyers to sort this out.


RE: Whatever happens...
By FaceMaster on 1/23/2010 9:36:15 AM , Rating: 2
I couldn't take your post seriously for all the bee's.


RE: Whatever happens...
By Camikazi on 1/23/2010 7:32:02 PM , Rating: 3
All I heard was buzzing :/


RE: Whatever happens...
By rs1 on 1/22/2010 12:59:41 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
If this research was funded by an international fund or government (remember the Human Genome Project?) the research to identify the function of genes would continue, but the discoveries would be held in the public trust because the research was not done with private money. A ruling in favor of the ACLU would likely force this situation since the profit motive would disappear.


I don't think that's an accurate assessment. To quote the article itself:

"[Myriad] has blocked universities from researching the important gene, and blocked competitors from developing test kits, making it impossible to get a second opinion on the test."

...so there are plenty of non-government organizations, both public and private, that are interested in researching this gene.

Further, just because you can't patent a gene, it doesn't mean the profit motive has been removed. There is still plenty of profit to be made, if you're the first to make a discovery and get to market with a product that exploits it (and you could even patent the specific product so that competitors couldn't start making cheap knock-offs), or even if you're not first but you discover something that allows you to build a more effective version of an existing product.

There'd also be no compulsion for private researchers to share their findings with the public, so there's plenty of profit to be had that way, too. Just discover something, keep it secret, and exploit it however you wish. The issue here isn't whether or not private research companies should be compelled to make their research freely available to the public and/or their competitors, it's whether or not they should be able to block the public and their competitors from even researching the same area of interest in the first place. The fact that they were able to get away with such a thing in the first place seems very questionable, to me.


RE: Whatever happens...
By geddarkstorm on 1/22/2010 2:32:55 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
These companies are putting considerable time, effort, and money into determining the function of a gene.


No, no they are not, not at all. It is the research done by universities and government agencies that are finding out the operation of the genes. Go to pubmed.org and run a search for the genes mentioned in the article and take a look at who's actually doing research and making discoveries.

This company is just skimming off the top; off the backs of the scientists who did the research and put their data in the public domain. All this company did was develop a test -- which is friggin' easy! Anyone can do it, it's called PCR. Whoopdeedoo. I could run this test for a few bucks right now in my lab if I wanted.


RE: Whatever happens...
By mcnabney on 1/22/2010 2:39:04 PM , Rating: 1
So what did the company do to win the patent? If someone else already identified the purpose they shouldn't have even been given a patent based upon prior art/discovery. I am guessing that this company actually did the research and identified the gene as a cancer marker. There is no other way they could support a patent filing.


RE: Whatever happens...
By geddarkstorm on 1/22/2010 2:53:17 PM , Rating: 5
Did you do what I said? Did you search for this gene on pubmed.org? You know, the NIH database of primary scientific literature? You'll see this company DID NOT discover this gene. DID NOT discover it was a cancer marker. And DID NOT discover what mutations of it are associated with cancer. You'll see there's dozens of researchers who did this work.

How did they earn this patent? I don't know. Why do you think the ACLU is after them? Because it's BS. It's like patenting air.

Maybe this company made a very specialized fast test, with novelly modified equipment to analyze this gene. The equipment and specific methods would be patentable. But then, how are they stopping competitors from getting to market? Since there's a myriad of ways of analyzing and diagnosing genes and cancers. I don't know. Something is friggin screwed up here. This is my livelihood. To think some company can get their grubby little hands on methods I freely publish, pass it off as their own in some fashion as to make a patent off of it so they can earn millions, billions, pisses me the frack off.


RE: Whatever happens...
By rudy on 1/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Whatever happens...
By UzairH on 1/23/2010 1:04:09 PM , Rating: 2
I can think of nothing more eloquent than these patent trolls are scumbags of the highest order. geddarkstorm you make excellent points, and it just gets me that douchenozzles can claim the intellectual ownership to the code of life, and worse that there official organizations (the patent office) which agrees with them. No person or group "owns" this code, if we are talking ownership then its God or mother nature or the universe or whetever you choose to believe in brought us here.

What next? A patent on how mammals can walk upright and talk?


RE: Whatever happens...
By zinfamous on 1/22/2010 2:52:24 PM , Rating: 5
No. Myriad did not patent transgenics or any sort of construct techniques, which is allowed, and should be allowed. That kind of research is quite expensive, and protecting the right for academia and industry to investigate these techiniques through patent law is essential.

myriad patented the gene itself, unaltered, and as such is laying claim to any investigation into what has become one of the primary focuses of cancer research.

It's complete BS, stifling innovation and treatment, and is absolutely criminal.


RE: Whatever happens...
By geddarkstorm on 1/22/2010 3:07:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That kind of research is quite expensive, and protecting the right for academia and industry to investigate these techiniques through patent law is essential.


Err, hate to break it to you, but that kind of research is dirt cheap these days. Get a site directed mutagenesis kit for a few hundred, and boom, now you've made a modified transgene in a day. Hurray. It'll take you at most a week, with one person, to go from unaltered, unpurified gene, to massive amounts of mutated, expressible transgene. We do this in our lab for other genes. (Unless there's some technical difficulties doing the cloning along the way, which happens, and can slow things down a great deal; but it isn't EXTENSIVE nor EXPENSIVE as far as what extensive/expensive actually means in research; I could fund such out of my own pocket, and I earn peanuts!)

Now, I do agree if they take a gene and modify it to some end so that it's gene product does a specific task (say, blocking the cancer propagation pathway), since they constructed the gene from the base template, that's patentable. And the real money spent will be on purifying, analyzing, and then testing the gene product in vivo. THAT'S what costs a ton, especially the past part by no contest.

But testing for a gene? Give me ten bucks. Testing for a cancer marker protein? Give me a hundred bucks. I'll have it all done for you in a day.


RE: Whatever happens...
By zinfamous on 1/23/2010 8:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
like I said, creating a transgenic, functioning construct and bringing it to model--i.e, a mouse, is quite time-consuming and VERY expensive. upwards of 2 years.

site-directed mutagenesis acts as a simple step in that process, and is useless on its own if it doesn't do anything.

transgene technology is certainly getting cheaper and faster by the year, but you have to get it in a mouse, or other model for it to be really useful. and that ain't cheap. I should know--I used to work in a transgenics facility. Mostly creating chimeras, but sometimes working with transgenic constructs as well.

...and we weren't cheap! :D


RE: Whatever happens...
By geddarkstorm on 1/25/2010 1:16:49 PM , Rating: 2
This company is obviously DID NOT work with transgenics in the sense of actually modifying animals and evaluating in vivo what the gene product does :P. Still, it doesn't cost /millions/ to do that work. Researchers I've known have done extensive mouse transgenics all under a single RO1.

But yes, as I said, that's expensive and time consuming because of the animals involved. But simply mutating a gene so you can patent a new construct, can be done in a matter of days for dirt cheap (relatively speaking in the research world).

Of course, this company didn't even do that. It patented the actual wild type gene apparently. Isn't that some bs? As a researcher or ex-researcher that should boil your blood.


RE: Whatever happens...
By msomeoneelsez on 1/22/2010 7:38:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Ultimately this whole situation is the fault of capitalism. If this research was funded by an international fund or government (remember the Human Genome Project?) the research to identify the function of genes would continue, but the discoveries would be held in the public trust because the research was not done with private money. A ruling in favor of the ACLU would likely force this situation since the profit motive would disappear. Of course the Healing motive would skyrocket!


You sir, have no understanding of capitalism, or free markets.

"If this research was funded by an international fund or government..."
First things first, the DNA which the patents cover were discovered by the human genome project... You know, the one that actually mapped the DNA and whatnot. The discovery of the link to breast cancer was done separate from it, which would take some research to actually find the source of that discovery. The problem though, is that the patent is on the segment of DNA, which was unaltered from its original form, not any methods using the DNA, or even an altered version of the DNA.

Patents are not meant for, and cannot be used in regards to, keeping preexisting things or ideas 'protected' from use by other companies. To patent a section of DNA is equatable to patenting water, and thusly, to prevent the usage of (to continue the analogy) water as a research tool, and possibly even as a tool in altered form (such as steam, or ice) for some other use than research, is absurd.

Furthermore, the claim, "without the patent it would never have been able to finance these tests and bring them to market," is absolutely groundless. In ANY market, not just a free market, there is supply and demand. If there is a possible demand for a product or service, such as the test which was produced as a result of the research done on the DNA segments in question, then someone will be willing to fund it because there is going to be a profit motive. This is assuming that the demand is high enough to make that risk of investment worthwhile. In this case, they got funding which means that there is sufficient demand for an investor to decide to fund the venture. The issue of a patent is absolutely irrelevant, because the investor will see multiple private firms attempting to accomplish something with the segment of DNA, and will thusly choose the firm which appears to have the least risk involved, the firm with the most efficiency.

So in fact, the problem here is not in any way, shape, or form, a problem with capitalism; rather, it is a problem with the patent system allowing for a patent to be placed upon something which was not meant to be "patented" in the first place.

"A ruling in favor of the ACLU would likely force this situation since the profit motive would disappear. Of course the Healing motive would skyrocket!"
As for this second claim you make, I need only reference what I stated above.

The profit motive will NOT disappear, rather, competition will be allowed to take its course which will result in the most efficient firm(s) taking the lead in the market, which leads to a) lower costs, b) higher quality (in this case, better detection offered by the test,) and c) a much greater increase in knowledge and growth of the industry involved.

The "healing motive" is rather a funny thing... people tend to think that the less there is of a profit motive, the more there is of a healing motive. I am not stating that claim to be entirely groundless, but I am stating that it is not so cut and dried. Take for example that I am a doctor. Not just any doctor though, I am the BEST neurosurgeon in the world. I am constantly looked to for advice in every aspect of the human brain. I could look at the supply of advice that can be given out, very small (and inelastic too, there's only one of me,) and realize that the entire world demands for my input and my services. I could take that as a reason to charge quite highly for my services and become a very rich man because of that. On the other hand, I could really love humanity, and just want to spread my knowledge to heal others, and I would do it for free. Well, wait a second... couldn't I charge enough to provide myself with a "comfortable" living, say, $100,000 a year, and maybe another $10,000 a year so that I can do some more research, keep increasing my knowledge and productivity. So I have $110,000 of "profit" there; but wait a second, I still have a love for humanity, and a desire to heal... That desire is no less because I wanted to keep a comfortable living wage, and investment in getting better at what I do...

Now, I've rambled on a bit longer than most internet users have an attention span for, so I will stop here, I just want more people to realize that what we have isn't actually capitalism, or free markets; our system has changed, it is something different, but it is still called capitalism as a way of saying free markets don't work, there must be more government instead.

In other words, look at what we have and ask "is this really what they say it is?" And see if maybe, just maybe, those Republicrats are wrong. Instead of following them, maybe you should do some research and use logical reasoning instead of following the emotional arguments more popularly spread by the media and government.


RE: Whatever happens...
By bennyg on 1/24/2010 11:23:41 PM , Rating: 1
I think "you, sir" miss that the driving force behind the existence of patent law in the first place is 'capitalism'. Patent law works perfectly well for its intended use, that is, repaying those who loan (invest) money to others in return for IP.

The problem is where that principle of ROI rubs up against something like professional ethics, where a researcher following "The Scientific Method" might not end up with any valuable IP at the conclusion of the research. Therefore bad loan, dead money. Patent protection theoretically means that when the investors strike it, they strike it rich, and make up for their other losses.

Unfortunately nowadays the tail wags the dog and scientist ethics are pretty much extinct, no researcher wants to be full of conscience and empty of job, they tend to choose to be the other way around and we end up with shit like Vioxx.


RE: Whatever happens...
By msomeoneelsez on 1/25/2010 5:44:22 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I think "you, sir" miss that the driving force behind the existence of patent law in the first place is 'capitalism'. Patent law works perfectly well for its intended use, that is, repaying those who loan (invest) money to others in return for IP.


Did you even read my comment? Let me quote myself...
"First things first, the DNA which the patents cover were discovered by the human genome project... You know, the one that actually mapped the DNA and whatnot. The discovery of the link to breast cancer was done separate from it, which would take some research to actually find the source of that discovery. The problem though, is that the patent is on the segment of DNA, which was unaltered from its original form, not any methods using the DNA, or even an altered version of the DNA.

Patents are not meant for, and cannot be used in regards to, keeping preexisting things or ideas 'protected' from use by other companies. To patent a section of DNA is equatable to patenting water, and thusly, to prevent the usage of (to continue the analogy) water as a research tool, and possibly even as a tool in altered form (such as steam, or ice) for some other use than research, is absurd."

You are absolutely missing what I quite clearly stated. Patents are meant for Intellectual Property (IP) NOT for things like water, air, or DNA. If the patent in question were to be of a process to create DNA, and thusly, life, and the process is not a natural occurrence then there would be no problem; the company that discovered the process would be A-OK to protect their IP. They put the money and time into discovering the process or developing the method, therefor they may protect it.

quote:
The problem is where that principle of ROI rubs up against something like professional ethics, where a researcher following "The Scientific Method" might not end up with any valuable IP at the conclusion of the research. Therefore bad loan, dead money. Patent protection theoretically means that when the investors strike it, they strike it rich, and make up for their other losses.


What you are talking about is University research, where either a) companies partner with the university as the investor so that they may be the company to employ the use of the research first (thus, first to market advantage) or b) the University, or a foundation, or even the government gives the funding for the research in some form of a grant so as to spur innovation, and not necessarily get direct benefits from the investment.

The difference is that companies research things in search of profit, and Universities research in pursuit of advanced knowledge, and being able to say that their university discovered x, y, and z, which then attracts more/better students.

quote:
Unfortunately nowadays the tail wags the dog and scientist ethics are pretty much extinct, no researcher wants to be full of conscience and empty of job, they tend to choose to be the other way around and we end up with shit like Vioxx.


While I do not deny that many people's main concern is money, you are quite mistaken. Just because a select few give a group a bad name doesn't mean that the group itself is bad. Lets look at anything from Abu Ghraib to the Marine Corps to University students to PETA to people who are sorting through dead family member's belongings.

I have some advice for you; stop taking extremes because they sound good. Instead, do some research, look for both sides of the issue, even if one side may be poorly represented, and take the stance that you might just be wrong.


RE: Whatever happens...
By curry on 1/22/2010 10:35:01 AM , Rating: 3
Do you think that someone is going to sue the patent holder when some one gets cancer, well it is "their" invention!.


RE: Whatever happens...
By Newspapercrane on 1/22/2010 1:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
Is mitosis considered copyright infringement? Don't tell the RIAA.


RE: Whatever happens...
By Camikazi on 1/23/2010 7:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
Please don't give them ideas :/


RE: Whatever happens...
By genedude on 1/22/2010 3:46:28 PM , Rating: 2
You already ARE paying royalties, because anyone who is insured shares in the high cost of testing others. Within the next decade, there will be whole genome testing (all 20000+ genes) for less than $4000, and I hope that this new methodology gets around the patent.

Before Myriad shut them down, there were research labs doing the similar testing for $800. Myriad's test should be better, but for a long period they denied that they needed to test for large deletions known to exist in Dutch patients. The reason was that it required a separate test--so much for concern about the patient! For the past several years, the service has been excellent but the price has increased from $2000 to $4000.

The Europeans blasted Myriad at a genetics meeting several years ago, and could not believe that we let this happen in the US.


RE: Whatever happens...
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this doesn't make sense
By Gul Westfale on 1/22/2010 9:46:27 AM , Rating: 5
how can you patent something that you didn't invent? you merely observed it in nature? wtf.




RE: this doesn't make sense
By GodisanAtheist on 1/22/2010 10:03:38 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah no kidding. In this case, Nature could pretty easily claim prior art...


RE: this doesn't make sense
By MozeeToby on 1/22/2010 10:26:10 AM , Rating: 5
The patent is probably a 'method' patent. That is, they patented the method of using this gene to determine the likelihood/diagnosis of cancer. It's the same way that some guy has a patent on a method of swinging on a swing.

The intellectual property system in the US (and most of the world) is broken. The purpose is to spur innovation and often as not all it is doing is holding it back. With the rate technology changes today, does anyone really believe we need exclusive patents for the length of time that they are given for?


RE: this doesn't make sense
By clovell on 1/22/2010 11:04:30 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I do. Just not for genes ;)


RE: this doesn't make sense
By geddarkstorm on 1/22/2010 2:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
The method already exists, and has for nearly 20 years. It's called Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR. We know the gene in question, we know the mutations that make things likely. Get a few cells, lyse them, throw in primers specific for the mutant types of the gene, put it in a thermal cycler, and in 5 hours you'll have your result. If you use a titration standard, you'll even be able to tell if a person has one or two copies of the aberrant gene.

Frack, this is easy stuff, and not worthy of a patent, as labs across the world are doing this right now for all sorts of genes, RNAs, and other genomic products.


RE: this doesn't make sense
By zinfamous on 1/22/2010 2:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
as was pointed out, Myriad did not patent any kind of method. Plenty of companies have patented constructs, vectors, all sorts of plasmids, genes, whatever--altered to perform specific diagnostic techniques. That isn't new.

Myriad actually did patent the gene, which is unacceptable.

However, I think the article does point out that the problem with the ACLU's lawsuit is that it doesn't target Myriad's claim specifically; it targets any type of patent related to the genome.

Myriad's claims should be challenged and defeated while other patents involving recombinant DNA technology and such should be left alone.


RE: this doesn't make sense
By stromgald30 on 1/22/2010 12:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
Did you read the article? The ruling was that genetic changes/tweaks can be patented. They're not just observing things in nature and patenting it. It's about patenting genetic treatments and bioengineering methods.

What they patent has to be sufficiently different from what occurs in nature. Now, the patent office may have let some slip through the cracks, but this isn't a simple open and shut case of stupidity as Mick's title may lead you to believe.


RE: this doesn't make sense
By Solandri on 1/23/2010 3:01:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
how can you patent something that you didn't invent? you merely observed it in nature? wtf.

Velcro was "invented" and patented by a Swiss engineer saw the hooks on a burr latching onto loops in clothing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velcro

I kinda agree with you, but just pointing out that what you say is not necessarily the way things are.


I patented Unicorns
By alanore on 1/22/2010 10:08:07 AM , Rating: 3
I patented Unicorns that's why your not allowed to show them in nature documentaries or Zoos.

Lets hope my patent on H2O gets through.




RE: I patented Unicorns
By stirfry213 on 1/22/2010 11:05:10 AM , Rating: 3
I wondered why I could never find one. You greedy bastard!


RE: I patented Unicorns
By wempa on 1/22/2010 12:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
There's no WAY the H2O patent will go through. It's way too vague. You'd need to patent it for a specific process, such as for drinking when you are thirsty. Don't try for "using water to get clean in a bath/shower", though. I already got that one accepted. :)


RE: I patented Unicorns
By Omega215D on 1/22/2010 12:59:59 PM , Rating: 2
Oh those poor French people... they would rather take drastic action than pay royalties to you...


RE: I patented Unicorns
By ClownPuncher on 1/22/2010 2:04:48 PM , Rating: 2
They don't user water for anything anyway, they substitute wine.


RE: I patented Unicorns
By chagrinnin on 1/22/2010 6:19:19 PM , Rating: 2
They knew how to throw a revolution though. "Off with their heads!" Someone should have to forfeit some genes here. :P


For once...
By Drexial on 1/22/2010 9:49:58 AM , Rating: 4
I am actually on the side of the usually insane ACLU 100%.

I see the point of some of their endeavors. But usually they find themselves in some ridiculously controversial lawsuit.

Gene patents are a HUGE damper on medical advancements.




RE: For once...
By MozeeToby on 1/22/2010 10:32:55 AM , Rating: 5
The ACLU's unstated goal is to find themselves in ridiculously controversial lawsuits. They have a philosophy of fighting to protect every inch of personal rights out of fear of the slippery slope. No doubt sometimes they go to far, but they'd rather have the courts decide where the line is than try to decide it themselves.

It's important to realize that the ACLU lawyers often know their clients are guilty, sleazy, disturbing individuals; but they aren't fighting to defend their clients, they're fighting to defend civil liberties.


if this doesnt cry patent system reform
By tastyratz on 1/22/2010 9:28:58 AM , Rating: 5
I don't know what does




RE: if this doesnt cry patent system reform
By Muggs074 on 1/22/2010 9:51:34 AM , Rating: 3
I agree the current patent system is flawed beyond belief and the people who are issuing these patents should not be doing so in fields that they don't understand. This is definitely an issue for the courts but with our current state of activist judges more interested in their own personal fame who knows how it will end.


Thoughts on the ACLU
By DtTall on 1/22/2010 9:54:21 AM , Rating: 2
As much as I hate some of the cases the ACLU brings to trial, other times I am very happy they exist.




RE: Thoughts on the ACLU
By cornelius785 on 1/22/2010 12:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
My thoughts exactly. All too often I'll read about some lawsuit the ACLU is behind that just adds to my hatred for them, but this lawsuit seems to be actually legitimate.


Frightening
By CookieKrusher on 1/22/2010 11:53:18 AM , Rating: 2
It's this sort of stuff that makes me think that the vast majority of humanity is screwed to the point that the only eventual recourse will be violent revolt. With superior financial support in a legal system that routinely indicates "S/he who has the most money to spend wins," I fear for any legitimate cause that finds itself at a dollar disadvantage.

It's terrifying to think that we've come to a point where corporations are literally patenting. . . us. I don't know about anyone else, but to me that just sounds wrong on a human level...let alone a legal one. We've really lost perspective if we think otherwise. -Just my 2 cents.




RE: Frightening
By wempa on 1/22/2010 2:01:27 PM , Rating: 2
Amen to that.


Ridiculous
By Ard on 1/22/2010 9:58:47 AM , Rating: 3
How is it even permissible to patent something that naturally occurs in nature? It's amazing how so much of what's going on in society today is accurately (scarily so) portrayed/predicted in Suarez's Daemon/Freedom.




time limit
By iamezza on 1/22/2010 10:04:25 AM , Rating: 2
At the very least they should have a strict time limit on the patents, just enough so that the company doing the research can recoup their costs if they get a product to market quickly, say 1-2 years.




RE: time limit
By Uncle on 1/22/2010 12:00:28 PM , Rating: 1
They better find out what gene is in your body and eradicate it for coming out with a remark like that. Their should not even be a discussion on this, the answer is an absolute NO to something they did not create. These assholes think their God and your giving them credence and feeding their psychopathic ego.


How can they...?
By Targon on 1/22/2010 10:55:53 AM , Rating: 3
How can they patent something that isn't an invention in any sense of the word? If they own the patent to something that is a disease, they claim ownership of it, and then, can't they be sued for damages caused by said disease?




The only way for human life to have value
By intelpatriot on 1/23/2010 6:51:28 AM , Rating: 1
The only way for anything to have value is if it's privately owned.

So if anything we should be privatisng the genetic research currently in public hands.

Freedom increases as property is brought into private ownership. Just think of the freedom we will have when 100% of the genome is patented.

Would the Holocaust, or Rwanda, or the Obamacaust (that's comming if we don't take action) have happened if there had been potential for profit in our genes?




By Camikazi on 1/23/2010 7:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, you would kill off the imperfect* and only let the perfect* live, the more perfect the more profit!

*perfection is of course measured and altered to maximize profits.


source?
By Drag0nFire on 1/22/2010 11:08:21 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with the sentiments of all commentators here. However, I think the most interesting part of this article is the claim that 20% of the human genome has been patented.

Can we get a source for this stat?

Thanks!




If they can paten that...
By Belard on 1/22/2010 12:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
... then I have just filed a patent for eggs of all human females.

Unless you send me $1000, I do not give anyone the right to damage those eggs with sperm.

P.O. Box coming soon.




Life
By jvillaro on 1/22/2010 1:16:40 PM , Rating: 2
I´m going to apply for a patent on life itself. If you don´t want to die, pay up!




It's my genetic code not their's.
By noonie on 1/22/2010 4:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
They haven't patented my genome because I haven't given anyone permission to. If my insurance company and I pay to have my genes analyzed it's my property.

Now tech associated with analyzing and determining what something means is different. And I'm sure there are and should be numerous patents associated with that.

There should be a definitive line between what is mine and what is a patent holders.

My genes can't be patented, but a study that might include my genes along with 50,000 other people that shows a statistical trend within a specific part of a gene sequence that leads to a diagnosis should have some sort of intellectual property patent. Otherwise how are these folks ever going to regain their their investment in being able to help med-docs do this type of diagnosis? Oh, and I'd expect to be compensated for participating in such a test/study and I'd need to give permission for my genes to be used in such a study.




Russia and China
By gevorg on 1/23/2010 2:16:19 AM , Rating: 2
Imaging the laughter in Russian and Chinese scientific communities when they will hear about US company getting a patent on a human gene. LOL! :)




By Icehearted on 1/23/2010 3:35:59 PM , Rating: 2
Which is more important in America, human life or capitalism?

That's rhetorical, we all know that as far as our country goes $>you.




They can have them back
By George Powell on 1/24/2010 3:57:55 AM , Rating: 2
If these companies 'own' these numerous bad genes, because lets be honest they'll only bother patenting something they can profit out of, then they should be required to remove them from all people on the planet in order to preserve their intellectual rights. Or alternatively they could sue someone who gets breast cancer for instance because that person has made use of a particular gene.




By William Gaatjes on 1/24/2010 1:11:43 PM , Rating: 2
How about Monsanto patenting biotech seeds ?

When these seeds have at the beginning an advantage gained from genetic modification, when grown they will through the course of evolution become more widespread then the natural version of the seeds. Sees used for crop. After a while these gm crops will loose their advantage, but we will have by then payed the price...

What will happen when every farmer grows gm crops ?
Will we all have to pay more because of patent royalties ?

I heared and read in the past some horror stories that only seemed to fit in scifi horror movies. But they where true.

Now recently i saw this documentary.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6262083407...





By xrodney on 1/25/2010 4:07:55 AM , Rating: 2
None should be able to patent DNA, there are 8 billions human beings on this planet and they have no rights to patent anything that making us what we are.




Like owning a patent on rocks.
By JonnyDough on 1/25/2010 6:27:28 AM , Rating: 2
If I owned a part of nature I think I'd choose rocks or dirt. You'd all have to pay me.

Another case of I.P. and patent law meets greedy drug companies.

For a great book on how stupid this idea is (patenting genes) read Michael Crichton's "NEXT", especially the author's note at the end.




By chunkymonster on 1/25/2010 9:24:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Should biotech firms be able to patent genes, block medical tests and university research on grounds of "ownership"?


The short answer, NO!

Anyone see the movie, The Island? I think I'd prefer a world more like the movie Surrogates.

Articles like this make me glad I am a card carrying member of both the ACLU and NRA!




By sapiens74 on 1/22/2010 3:44:11 PM , Rating: 1
Something tells me the Creator has us patented already.

MAKE YOUR OWN GENES!




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