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Genes, Patenting & Ownership.

Double K

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A news story the other day raised a good question.


Who owns your genetic information?


Should large corporations have the right to patent genetic information or should new laws arise surrounding ownership, of exactly who owns the genetic information?


Who should have access to personal genetic information, and how will it be used?


Who owns and controls genetic information?


Who owns genes and other pieces of DNA?

Will patenting DNA sequences limit their accessibility and development into useful products?



American firm Myriad Genetics owns the patent to two mutated genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.


It grants Genetic Technologies Limited exclusive license in Australia to test for breast cancer.


But a cancer advocacy group is challenging that monopoly, arguing genes are discovered, not invented, and therefore should not be patentable.


It follows the success of a similar case in the United States.


"There's a philosophical and ethical issue about commercialising the human body and its genetic material," lawyer Rebecca Gilsenan told the ABC.


"Gene patents can have the effect that they stifle research, they can stifle the development of treatments that researchers might otherwise develop and they can impede access to diagnostic testing for that gene mutation."

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My view is that you shouldn't be able to own or patent a naturally occurring gene, as it's a discovery, not an invention.


Which, on reading your post in more detail, has already been said!

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The current situation is like saying the first person to SEE something for the first time owns it. Bizarre to say the least....pure idiocy on the part of those who allow it.


Of course. Everyone knows that to own something, you have to plant a flag in it.

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Well most patents on genes (that I am aware of) are a bit more than the mere discovery (otherwise HUGO would have patented everything by now).

It requires the proof that it has any kind of relevance (e.g. being a suitable marker for a disease). Then, there has to be some kind of application. For instance, they could patent a disease marker and the associated detection methods (e.g. simply primers specific for the detection of the particular allele). And demonstrate that the whole package has an application e.g. as a diagnostic method. It is to my knowledge not sufficient to simply clone out a gene and patent it.


However in the end I do not really know what the minimum requirement for a gene patent is as I have only limited personal experience with patents in general.

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However in the end I do not really know what the minimum requirement for a gene patent is as I have only limited personal experience with patents in general.





Although isolating the gene from other genetic material renders the gene "made by man," various other requirements must be met in order to gain patent protection. For example, in order to be patentable the gene must have a substantial and credible use. Thus, a patent on a gene would not be allowed if the only use described in the patent application was for the use of the gene in some area that was totally unrelated to the function of genetic sequence.


Patents may be obtained for specific DNA sequence information as well as for RNA and amino acid sequences, and for the use of these sequences in various methods. For example, some patents are directed to the use of genetic information in tests to diagnose disease or in test compounds that might be useful to fight disease. Other "methods" patents include the use of the genetic information for tests to identify people with a predisposition to acquiring a certain disease. Other patents are directed toward gene therapy to replace defective genes.


Patent laws apply to gene patents in the same way that they apply to mechanical inventions. In the United States, there is a "first to invent" standard that must be met. This standard means that whoever first invents, discovers, purifies, or isolates a gene is entitled to all patent rights arising from that invention. The law specifies that the invention must have been made by the individual submitting the application. It also requires that the genetic information be "novel." This means that it cannot have been described in a printed publication more than one year prior to the filing of the patent application. Further, the genetic information cannot have been known or used by someone other than the inventor more than one year prior to the invention by the person who has filed the patent application. If the gene is newly described and has not been publicly disclosed, the novelty requirement is usually easily met. Unlike the United States, however, most countries do not have a one-year grace period between the disclosure of the gene and the filing of a patent application. In those countries it is therefore much more difficult to meet patent law requirements.


To qualify as patentable, genetic information must also be "unobvious." This means that the gene cannot be an obvious modification of something that is already known. It is usually easy to meet this requirement when DNA, RNA, or amino acid sequences are involved. However, complications sometimes arise when variants of the genetic information are already known.




Read more: Patenting Genes - Patent Requirements - genetic http://medicine.jrank.org/pages/2635/Patenting-Genes-Patent-Requirements.html#ixzz0qPDNF1D2

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