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{bio,medical} informatics

Monday, August 20, 2001

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find rt skeptics saw something entirely different in today's announcement. One fund manager, an Humelated articles. powered by google. SiliconValley.Com As disease-causing genes are discovered, the rush to the patent office grows

"Like the Terrys, a rising number of patients, doctors and ethicists are questioning how the patent system handles genetic claims. Many say it awards too many patents, overly rewards their holders, and gives too little back to patients. Yet many industry voices complain the process is moving too slowly to keep up with galloping research and to yield medical care awaited by suffering patients.

The strains from both sides are apt to intensify. The run on genetic patents will grow fiercer in the next several years, spurred by longer lists of genes and derived proteins discovered by genomics and proteomics projects, according to patent experts in business and government.

"The gold rush days are about to begin,'' says Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. "There are so many targets that look so lucrative that they're falling all over one another to pursue opportunity after opportunity.""

redux [07.14.01]
find related articles. powered by google. Wired News Why Is Your DNA Their Secret?

"You probably don't realize that the DNA you carry inside your body is patented by companies, universities and government agencies.

There were more than 25,000 DNA-based patents by the end of 2000, but you aren't allowed to look at some of your own DNA sequences because researchers keep the information private in order to stay ahead of the competition and to sell the information as a trade secret."

"Dr. Robert Cook-Deegan, director of the National Cancer Policy Board and the National Academy of Sciences Commission on Life Sciences, said keeping DNA data secret stops up the flow of information and slows the discovery of potential treatments for disease.

But biotech companies and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office defend themselves by saying that without patents there would be no innovation."

find related articles. powered by google. Science Celera human genome data not Wellcome
[summary - can be viewed for free once registered]

"In this policy forum, Cook-Deegan and McCormack urge that DNA sequence information contained in patents be made publicly available soon after patent applications are filed. This will speed access to valuable data without undermining investment in subsequent development of DNA-based inventions. The authors further suggest that federal agencies and nonprofit funds consider adopting this policy as a condition of accepting their funders; private firms could adopt it as a norm to reduce duplication of effort and to accelerate innovation."

redux [02.27.01]
find related articles. powered by google. The Financial Times Opinion: No price should be placed on the book of life

"Let me be frank here: my view is, and always has been, that the information in the genome is our genetic heritage and should not be profited from directly. It is not for sale. This is a pro partnership, not an anti-business, stance. We want to ensure that the entire world has equal access to the data, so that the potential health benefits are reaped by the many, rather than the few.

As Prime Minister Blair said: "The knowledge contained in the map of the human genome has the power to touch the lives of everyone on the planet." It is for precisely this reason that our commitment should be for the entire world to use this data so the benefits can be realised by all, and major killers such as malaria, tuberculosis, river blindness and leprosy will not be neglected."

find related articles. powered by google. The Economist Science and profit

"ONCE upon a time, pure and applied science were the same. Sir Humphry Davy discovered seven chemical elements, and invented the miner?s safety lamp. Louis Pasteur investigated the properties of molecules, and worked out how to stop milk spoiling. Everybody thought that was admirable. Somehow, things have changed. Today the feeling is widespread that science and commerce should not?must not?mix. There is a queasy suspicion that the process of discovery is in some way corrupted if it is driven by profit."

"Far from compromising science, profit in both these cases - the development of new medicines and the elucidation of the genome?has animated it, and directed it towards meeting pressing human needs. It is a happy marriage. Davy and Pasteur would surely have approved."

redux [04.26.00]
find related articles. powered by google. 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 [08.26.00]
find related articles. powered by google. 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."

[ 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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