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{bio,medical} informatics

Saturday, August 26, 2000

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MIT Technology Review The Great Gene Grab
"Biotech companies are snapping up patents on human genes. Will the trend mean powerful new medicines, or will it quash biomedical innovation?"
MIT Technology Review The Case for Gene Patents
"Nowhere are patents more central to the creative process than in genetic drug development, where human genes and their expressed proteins themselves are developed as therapies. The biotechnology industry in the United States has brought a handful of these crucial new products (recombinant human insulin, to name one of the most familiar) to market and is on the threshold of a bonanza of genetic drugs and vastly greater relief for ill and aging populations around the world.

Patent protection is the sine qua non of that bonanza."

MIT Technology Review Toward Sharing the Genome
"The raw data of the human genome should be an “IP-free zone,” opines author Seth Shulman, to preserve our precious shared genetic heritage and update outmoded notions of intellectual property."

redux [07.17.00]
GeneLetter Committee examines gene patents
"Scientists and biotechnology experts on Thursday sharply disagreed before a House subcommittee over whether it should be easier or harder to patent human genes and genomic inventions.

Dr. Harold Varmus, former head of the National Institutes of Health and current president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said that it is currently too easy to patent genetic discoveries."

"But other witnesses said that patents should be even more available to encourage the development of critically needed medical advances. "The development of cures for uncured diseases, such as kidney cancer, will come out of the Human Genome Project only if commercial development can take place," testified Carl Dixon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Kidney Cancer Association."
redux [04.26.00]
Signals Homestead 2000: The Genome
""The analogy that I would use is that of a minefield," said Bob Levy, senior VP of science and technology for American Home Products. "We are spending an incredible amount of time now, when we find exciting targets and begin to validate them, in trying to define who has rights to what. And we're finding, in almost every product that we look at, that someone has patented the protein, the gene, a fragment, a diagnostic test." Levy noted that untangling patent rights, and determining which patents are dominant, are increasingly time-consuming and expensive tasks. And patent-holders must be paid. "The royalties that will be involved soon in some of the products that we are bringing to market, they're already up into the ten, fourteen, fifteen percent [range]," said Levy. "And that may increase with time.""

redux [03.18.00]
HMS Beagle Patenting Genes Is It Necessary and Is It Evil?
[requires 'free' registration]
"Last October, biologists' neck hair rose when J. Craig Venter announced his company, Celera, had filed 6,500 provisional patent applications for human genes. Henry Ford mass-produced automobiles - it seems evident we are now entering an era in which intellectual property is rolling off the assembly lines. Is this really the ultimate legacy of Watson and Crick's elegant double helix? And what does it portend for the future of biology?"

[ rhetoric ]

Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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