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Supreme Court to Consider Whether Patents on Genes Are Valid; Verdict post 30

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Old
12-10-2012, 11:10 AM
  #1
LadyStanley
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Supreme Court to Consider Whether Patents on Genes Are Valid; Verdict post 30

http://cen.acs.org/articles/90/i50/H...Latest+News%29

Quote:
The Supreme Court will decide whether human genes can be patented, a long-disputed legal question that has implications for the future of personalized health care.
The justices will consider a challenge to Myriad Genetics’ patents on genetic material—BRCA1 and BRCA2—used in tests to identify an increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
The question for the Court is whether genes removed from the cell in a laboratory are human-made inventions eligible for patent protection or products of nature that cannot be patented.
Patents provide protection to allow "creators"/discoverers to capitalize on finding (and recoup their costs).

So, the (eventual) decision can have a wide ranging impact on funding/payment on R&D and utilization of genetic material

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12-10-2012, 03:06 PM
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I like how they say that "these patents endanger women who deserve access to the best possible care"... as if they wouldn't have patented it, themselves, if they had been the ones to spend years and millions of dollars discovering it. I wonder what's more endangering to patients: a world with medical patents or a world where there's little scientific discovery because there's no incentive to invest in research in the first place. You can make the same case that they did for any medical patent, whether it's on vaccines, antibiotics, endoscopes or MRI machines. In a perfect world, there'd be no patents on any of them and they'd be free to everyone, but that's unrealistic and a fantasy of those who don't understand what it takes to make them in the first place.

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12-10-2012, 05:20 PM
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God should be allowed to patent human genes.

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12-10-2012, 10:43 PM
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that article is just vague enough to stir people up into a frenzy. on the surface it sounds like They just want to protect a set of unique 100% fabricated genes using their proprietary process, which I totally get. In my mind its no different than Pfizer or even Budweiser holding their new process for brewing close to the chest, and patenting and selling a new line of drug/beer.

Some of the quotes from opponents, however, almost make it sound like Myriad might hold some key patents that are serving for barriers to entry others to enter the field, and if that's the case I do have a problem with that. Monopoly can be just as big a killer of innovation as lack of incentive.


Crom an actual science perspective though- how friggin cool is that?! I had no idea we were at the point of crafting unique genes, and actually applying them too! I think it's awesome that someone has figured out a way to get the human body to accept not just new genetic material, but man-made genetic material.

Designer babies not far off, eh?

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12-11-2012, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by zytz View Post
Crom an actual science perspective though- how friggin cool is that?! I had no idea we were at the point of crafting unique genes, and actually applying them too! I think it's awesome that someone has figured out a way to get the human body to accept not just new genetic material, but man-made genetic material.

Designer babies not far off, eh?
Very exciting stuff. Very dangerous as well. Next 50-100 years or so is going to be huge for human development. Can we harness and properly implement developments such as this? Who is going to control this technology? How will be it used?

Obviously at first, the focus is to eliminate genes for health care. Now you patent this to protect investments. Fine, they are protecting the investment, makes sense. But then are only the rich and privileged going to get access to this technology? Will then only the rich and privileged will be able to basically artificially extend their lives, or extend the lives of their offspring? It will never stop at mere health care. Then you will have identified genes for increased intelligence, athletic ability, removing mental health problems, small and large. Pretty soon we are talking about a segregating of society based on pre-determined bought genetic markers.

People like to think we will be better than to fall into a "Gattaca" type society based on privileges from birth, but will we actually?

With designer babies you could end up with a society directly slanted towards males versus females (or vice versa). You could end up having a society dependant designer babies when unforeseen consequences from recessive genes that will only become evident generations in the future that could have disastrous consequences. The possibilities for problems are as limitless as the possibilities for enhancement of the species.

The very easy example to use is of course the designed sports player (particularly relevant on a sports forum). I design my baby to have the perfect hockey body. He grows up with Ovechkin's natural tools, Gretzky's hockey smarts. Is that legal when he was basically "programmed" to have those natural advantages? It's not that far away.

I am not a fear mongerer, I believe that research such as this is hugely valuable. This IS the future, whether people will be willing to admit it or not. But we must understand consequences as well as results.

This is one of the many issues that humanity will be dealing with in the very near future of which we have no prior experience. Government, war, classes, racism, etc are problems people have been dealing with since the beginning of civilization. We are entering an era where we are going to be asking questions that have no historical context, nothing to draw on. Designer babies, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, "downloading" people into electronic mediums, cloning organs/people these things are going to define humanity over the next 50-100 years. How will we cope? I don't know, but I certainly cannot wait to find out

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Old
12-11-2012, 06:09 AM
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The means of accessing the DNA to find/remove the gene should be patented or protected legally but not the DNA itself.

Water isn't patented but i'm sure filtering/de-ionizing techniques are patented.

DNA is just another molecule.

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12-13-2012, 04:02 AM
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Originally Posted by njdevsfn95 View Post
The means of accessing the DNA to find/remove the gene should be patented or protected legally but not the DNA itself.

Water isn't patented but i'm sure filtering/de-ionizing techniques are patented.

DNA is just another molecule.
The problem is that proteins can be patented and DNA is essentially the instructions for creating proteins.

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12-13-2012, 05:36 PM
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People interested in this should read Next by Michael Crichton. It's a work of fiction with a really mediocre plot, but he touches on this specific subject quite a bit.

He also talks about use of human tissues, biotechnological copyright laws, designer babies, designer pets, corporate espionage, research ethics, corporate funding....he gives a really nice editorial at the end as well.

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12-13-2012, 05:57 PM
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I just pulled out my copy of the book and, what do you know, he talks about Myriad and BRCA1/BRCA2 specifically in the author's note.

Here's an excerpt:

Quote:
When Myriad patented two breast cancer genes, they charged nearly three thousand dollars for the test, even though the cost to create a gene test is nothing like the cost to develop a drug. Not surprisingly, the European patent office revoked the patent on a technicality. The Canadian government announced that it would conduct gene tests without paying for the patent. Some years ago, the owner of the gene for Canavan disease refused to make the test widely available, even though families who had suffered with the disease had contributed time, money, and tissues to get the gene identified. Now those same families could not afford the test.

That is an outrage, but it is far from the most dangerous consequence of gene patents. In its heyday, research on SARS was inhibited because scientists were unsure who owned the genome --three simultaneous patent claims had been filed. As a result, research on SARS wasn't as vigorous as it might have been. That should scare every sensible person. here was a contagious disease with a 10 percent death rate that had spread to two dozen countries around the world. Yet scientific research to combat the disease was inhibited--because of patent fears.

At the moment, hepatitis C, HIV, hemophilius influenza, and various diabetes genes are all owned by some entity. They shouldn't be. Nobody should own a disease.

Michael Crichton, Next, HarperCollins Publishing, 2006

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12-13-2012, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by DanielBryanRoleModel View Post
The problem is that proteins can be patented and DNA is essentially the instructions for creating proteins.
I see.

Using no scientific reasoning, i am against this idea. Just doesnt feel right.

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04-15-2013, 02:13 AM
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Supreme Court to Consider Whether Patents on Genes Are Valid

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/bu...exprod=myyahoo

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04-16-2013, 01:11 AM
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I would be very surprised to see the court rule human genes to be patentable. Screening techniques, sure. Extraction, sure. But I don't see how one could justify patenting the gene sequence itself (unless it's a modification to the sequence).

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04-16-2013, 01:40 AM
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I would be very surprised to see the court rule human genes to be patentable. Screening techniques, sure. Extraction, sure. But I don't see how one could justify patenting the gene sequence itself (unless it's a modification to the sequence).

I agree. I found the ruling by the lower court truly bizarre:
The question before the court is whether isolated human genes are products of nature, and therefore ineligible for patents, or are sufficiently different from the genes found inside the body’s cells.

The plaintiffs won the first round when Judge Robert W. Sweet of Federal District Court in Manhattan said that isolated DNA was the same as DNA in the body in what really mattered — the genetic information it carries.

But Myriad prevailed at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, twice, by 2-to-1 decisions. One of the majority opinions said that DNA was a chemical, not an information medium, and that disconnecting DNA from the chromosome changed it enough structurally to qualify for patenting.
That is simply laughable. The individual bases certainly are chemicals, but the entire point -- and purpose to the sequence -- is that it's an information medium which represents a product that may have significance in a disease.

I think the other thing mentioned in the article is that the point may be moot. The majority of outstanding diseases for which a better diagnostic is needed may need different markers (post-translational processing) and other biochemical triggers.

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04-16-2013, 02:49 AM
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I agree. I found the ruling by the lower court truly bizarre:
The question before the court is whether isolated human genes are products of nature, and therefore ineligible for patents, or are sufficiently different from the genes found inside the body’s cells.

The plaintiffs won the first round when Judge Robert W. Sweet of Federal District Court in Manhattan said that isolated DNA was the same as DNA in the body in what really mattered — the genetic information it carries.

But Myriad prevailed at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, twice, by 2-to-1 decisions. One of the majority opinions said that DNA was a chemical, not an information medium, and that disconnecting DNA from the chromosome changed it enough structurally to qualify for patenting.
That is simply laughable. The individual bases certainly are chemicals, but the entire point -- and purpose to the sequence -- is that it's an information medium which represents a product that may have significance in a disease.

I think the other thing mentioned in the article is that the point may be moot. The majority of outstanding diseases for which a better diagnostic is needed may need different markers (post-translational processing) and other biochemical triggers.
Ridiculous. You could use that logic on ink, bits, etc.

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04-16-2013, 07:33 AM
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This is beyond stupid, what next a patent for the gene that decides what color eyes are?

This is the part that worries me most...this is MY genetic information not some companies.

Quote:
Opponents of gene patents say no company should have rights to what is essentially part of the human body. They contend that Myriad’s monopoly has impeded medical progress and access to testing — in some cases denying patients their own genetic information.

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04-16-2013, 10:32 AM
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IMO the Supremes will do their usual fine job of somehow managing to question the wisdom of something while simultaneously allowing it with a TBD scope.

If we start from the assumption that patents serve a meaningful purpose, it stands to reason sequences of molecules, and the methods to create them, should be patentable.

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04-16-2013, 12:08 PM
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IMO the Supremes will do their usual fine job of somehow managing to question the wisdom of something while simultaneously allowing it with a TBD scope.

If we start from the assumption that patents serve a meaningful purpose, it stands to reason sequences of molecules, and the methods to create them, should be patentable.
The meaningful purpose to patents, at its core, is to protect innovation and invention. The work done to create something not seen before.

A sequence of molecules not found in a natural state, or perhaps not even possible in a natural state, is patentable. Materials Science is the proof of that concept taken to its endpoint.

We are talking about four base pairs that when put together in a particular sequence yield the genetic basis for information transfer. If you expand from these four bases to include retroviruses and their RNA-basis for the transfer of genetic information, you have essentially how life on this planet perpetuates itself. From a patents perspective, no one should be able claim that they invented a gene. Much has been discovered, but no one created anything.

Let's take the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as an example. It's a method that allows you to rapidly produce copies of DNA strands or sequences. THAT is patentable. Using the critical thinking of the lower court, one could generate all possible combinations of specific genes (since the human genome has now been decoded) and patent these sequences, one for each gene and all its variants. Exactly why should someone have that right and ownership?

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04-16-2013, 02:04 PM
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So would I have to pay a royalty every time a cell in my body reproduces? **** that.

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04-16-2013, 02:43 PM
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That's what it seems like. How the hell are you going to patent a natural biological thing that occurs in humans and other species all over the world?

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04-17-2013, 02:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
The meaningful purpose to patents, at its core, is to protect innovation and invention. The work done to create something not seen before.

A sequence of molecules not found in a natural state, or perhaps not even possible in a natural state, is patentable. Materials Science is the proof of that concept taken to its endpoint.

We are talking about four base pairs that when put together in a particular sequence yield the genetic basis for information transfer. If you expand from these four bases to include retroviruses and their RNA-basis for the transfer of genetic information, you have essentially how life on this planet perpetuates itself. From a patents perspective, no one should be able claim that they invented a gene. Much has been discovered, but no one created anything.
Let's take the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as an example. It's a method that allows you to rapidly produce copies of DNA strands or sequences. THAT is patentable. Using the critical thinking of the lower court, one could generate all possible combinations of specific genes (since the human genome has now been decoded) and patent these sequences, one for each gene and all its variants. Exactly why should someone have that right and ownership?
I disagree with the bolded above. The lab I work in creates genes all the time by modifying a slew of bases. Every once in a while, we hit upon a sequence that does something useful, and those are patented. Some companies create genes via solid phase synthesis instead of PCR; those are created genes in the truest sense of the word (assuming of course that they're not copies of wild type). Again, patents are to protect innovation, and creating/modifying genes is most definitely a pursuit that requires ingenuity, time, and money. That said, "owning" a naturally occurring gene requires none of the above and the notion that such a gene itself, rather than the method to extract it, would be patentable is very troubling.

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04-17-2013, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Danja View Post
I disagree with the bolded above. The lab I work in creates genes all the time by modifying a slew of bases. Every once in a while, we hit upon a sequence that does something useful, and those are patented. Some companies create genes via solid phase synthesis instead of PCR; those are created genes in the truest sense of the word (assuming of course that they're not copies of wild type). Again, patents are to protect innovation, and creating/modifying genes is most definitely a pursuit that requires ingenuity, time, and money. That said, "owning" a naturally occurring gene requires none of the above and the notion that such a gene itself, rather than the method to extract it, would be patentable is very troubling.

Can you give me an example of something that yielded a useful product or function? Are we talking about inserting a gene into a bacterial vat to produce compounds or other chemicals, for example?

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04-17-2013, 02:35 AM
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Can you give me an example of something that yielded a useful product or function? Are we talking about inserting a gene into a bacterial vat to produce compounds or other chemicals, for example?
That is much of what we do, yes. I'd name some patents but I want to maintain some anonymity. Here's a different synthetic gene (protein I guess, but it comes from the gene) that's used by biologists worldwide: https://www.neb.com/products/m0530-p...dna-polymerase

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04-17-2013, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danja View Post
That said, "owning" a naturally occurring gene requires none of the above and the notion that such a gene itself, rather than the method to extract it, would be patentable is very troubling.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danja View Post
That is much of what we do, yes. I'd name some patents but I want to maintain some anonymity. Here's a different synthetic gene (protein I guess, but it comes from the gene) that's used by biologists worldwide: https://www.neb.com/products/m0530-p...dna-polymerase

Okay, thanks for clarifying, Danja. I agree that the purely synthetic genes could/should be able to get patent protection. This starts getting us into the greater arena of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) with regard to intellectual property as well. You have both the gene(s) of interest or the genetic modifications, coupled to the techniques used to insert the genetic material into the host organism (the protein factory, if you will) or 'host' environment.

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04-17-2013, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
The meaningful purpose to patents, at its core, is to protect innovation and invention. The work done to create something not seen before.
That is our current interpretation, but the historical roots of patenting are quite different - they were originally intended to prevent people from being able to monopolize.

Quote:
From a patents perspective, no one should be able claim that they invented a gene. Much has been discovered, but no one created anything.
A "patent" on a sequence of base pairs is unlikely to be either useful or valuable without also having methods to create that sequence artificially under controlled conditions, and, presumably, a method to insert this manufactured sequence into an existing sequence. And to me those seem like very patentable methods.

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04-17-2013, 02:27 PM
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How the hell are you going to patent a natural biological thing that occurs in humans and other species all over the world?
The patents we are talking about here are, fundamentally, about ownership of genetic material. We have had the concept of ownership of genetic material in our various societies for hundreds, if not thousands of years, in numerous forms.

Technology is now allowing us to somewhat democratize access this material - to me this is a Good Thing.

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