"Nevertheless 20 percent of the genome is now privately owned. The gene for diabetes is owned, and its owner has something to say about any research you do, and what it will cost you. The entire genome of the hepatitis C virus is owned by a biotech company. Royalty costs now influence the direction of research in basic diseases, and often even the testing for diseases. Such barriers to medical testing and research are not in the public interest. Do you want to be told by your doctor, "Oh, nobody studies your disease any more because the owner of the gene/enzyme/correlation has made it too expensive to do research?"
The question of whether basic truths of nature can be owned ought not to be confused with concerns about how we pay for biotech development, whether we will have drugs in the future, and so on. If you invent a new test, you may patent it and sell it for as much as you can, if that's your goal. Companies can certainly own a test they have invented. But they should not own the disease itself, or the gene that causes the disease, or essential underlying facts about the disease. The distinction is not difficult, even though patent lawyers attempt to blur it."
National Geographic News One-Fifth of Human Genes Have Been Patented, Study Reveals
"A new study shows that 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States, primarily by private firms and universities."
"The top patent assignee is Incyte, a Palo Alto, California-based drug company whose patents cover 2,000 human genes."
"[Critics] caution that patents that are very broad can obstruct future innovations by preventing researchers from looking for alternative uses for a patented gene."
[via the personal genome ]redux [05.19.04]
New Scientist Europe revokes controversial gene patent
"A controversial patent on a breast cancer gene has been revoked by the European Patent Office, paving the way for cheaper screening across the continent. The verdict reflects the transatlantic disparities that make gene patents much tougher to uphold in Europe than in the US."
"The EPO has yet to spell out its precise reasons for revoking the BRCA1 patent, but New Scientist understands that the primary justification was that the application was not deemed "inventive"."redux [08.18.03]
Bio-IT World Guardians of the Genome
"An Australian biotech company, Genetic Technologies Ltd. (GTG), is stirring up controversy over its decision to enforce a series of patents, granted in the 1990s by the US Patent and Trademark Office, over the genetic diagnostic and mapping applications of non-coding, or junk, DNA."
"Scientists, including NHGRI chief Francis Collins and Sir John Sulston, are also upset over GTG's recent decision to ask academic institutions to sign research licenses."redux [05.07.03]
BBC Fight over Sars virus genes
"Scientists and commercial firms are scrambling to patent the genetic code of the virus thought to be responsible for Sars.
The group which produced the first entire genetic sequence of the coronavirus confirmed this week that it is seeking a patent to ensure that everyone has free access to the code.
It fears that a commercial patent could slow down research into vaccines and treatments."redux [09.28.02]
SFGate Scholars to debate the wisdom of continuing to patent genes
"The Bay Area biotech firm that started the heretical campaign to ban gene patents hopes to stir more debate on the topic by sponsoring a scholarly smackdown in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Santa Clara's Affymetrix broke ranks with the biotech industry in March by arguing that the United States should quit issuing gene patents because genes were invented by nature, not science."redux [07.23.02]
New Scientist Gene patents "inhibit innovation"
"Patents on DNA sequences "inhibit innovation and development" and should be the exception rather than the norm, says a panel of leading UK bioethicists. In the past, biotech companies have said that without such patent protection they would not have the economic incentive to invest in expensive research towards new drugs.
A discussion paper, produced by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCB), says that too many patents are of doubtful validity because they are being issued for genetic discoveries that are not adequately inventive. It recommends a number of significant changes to the way patents in the field are granted in the future and to limit possible adverse effects of those already issued."redux [03.18.02]
digitalMASS Compaq chief's comment stuns biotech crowd
"It's one of the toughest questions in biotechnology: Should businesses obtain patents on genetic information about plants, animals or humans? Michael Capellas, CEO of Compaq Computer Corp., surprised an audience of biotechnology specialists yesterday when he suggested that the answer should be "no.""
"In a comment that stunned the audience into several seconds of silence, Capellas responded to a question on the issue by flatly saying that companies shouldn't be able to patent genes. But he quickly backed away from the comment, pleading ignorance of all the ramifications of the issue. "If you're asking me what should be patentable," Capellas said, "I don't know.""redux [02.07.02]
NewScientist Scientists hindered by gene patent
"Patents may make some genetic tests so expensive that ordinary labs cannot afford to offer them, says a team of researchers who interviewed staff at 119 US facilities.
Patents are meant to provide an incentive for companies to put their discoveries into the public domain. But some researchers wonder if prohibitive costs could in fact have the opposite effect, by keeping standard genetic tests out of the reach of all but a few laboratories. That would have far-reaching consequences not only for health care, but for clinical research and quality control, the researchers say."redux [08.20.01]
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 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 [02.27.01]
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 [08.26.00]
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."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.""
“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.”BIOINFORMATICS IN THE 21st CENTURY
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