Gene Patenting - Pro's vs. Con's

  • #1
Hi,

There is a lot of controversy over gene patenting. What are your thoughts on the subject?
 

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  • #2
Mech_Engineer
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I think my genes belong to me.
 
  • #3
Apparently according to my friend who works in IP you cannot patent a gene!

My thoughts are that you should not be able to either! Stops scientific research.
 
  • #4
lavinia
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Hi,

There is a lot of controversy over gene patenting. What are your thoughts on the subject?

What do you think of the part about Monsanto in the documentary, Food Inc.?
 
  • #5
Mech_Engineer
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Next is an interesting fiction novel by the late Michael Crichton on the subject. Not one of his best or most consistent works, but I found it interesting to read some cases about gene patents and their future dangers.
 
  • #6
member 392791
I thought gene's were patentable for some reason...wasn't sure how someone could call claims to them, but interesting topic to bring up.
 
  • #7
Ryan_m_b
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  • #8
Ouabache
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Hi,

There is a lot of controversy over gene patenting. What are your thoughts on the subject?

You may want to catch an earlier thread we have regarding this topic (created 9 yrs ago) "Should genes be patented?".
 
  • #9
Ryan_m_b
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Personally I don't see why patenting a DNA sequence that has been created rather than found is any worse than any other form of patenting with the caveat that there is a grey area when it comes to the issue of the DNA sequence arising naturally. In other words company A patents a fairly short and basic DNA sequence and sues company B for using organisms with that sequence in a commercial way even though company B acquired the organisms by finding them naturally evolved in the environment (this seems unlikely though).

The patent system is a bit of a mess IMO; on the one hand businesses do need incentives to invest in R&D and if they don't have some form of revenue protection they are unlikely to do so. Without patents we leave ourselves open to monopolies/cartels as large commercial entities crush all competition by using their greater resources to outproduce and undercut on price goods/services recently invented by smaller entities. For example, small company B invests a lot of time and resources into the R&D of product X. They can sell X at Y and produce Z units. Large company A copies design and sells >Z units at <Y cost causing company B to collapse. In such a system the only way for small companies to survive would be keeping their processes secret which would retard scientific and technological development.

On the other hand there are many examples of patent protection resulting in unethical scenarios such as companies purchasing patents for products they have no intention of producing or developing and making profits by suing anyone who violates their patent portfolio or pharmaceutical companies suing entities that produce and sell their medicines at a cost that can be afforded by impoverished people in the developing world.

In conclusion it's a complicated issue and tbh whilst reform/enforcement of the patent system is needed to sort out some of the problems it generates it seems to me that the whole system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be scraped and replaced with something else. However within our current economic and monetary systems I don't know of any proposal that would work better so unless we change those as well it...Either way this seems to be a big problem.
 
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  • #10
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I'm sure many people would love to patent this.
 

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  • #11
Myriad Genetics hold patents on the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes, and apparently they have been very agressive of defending these patents. These genes are an idicator of breast cancer (correct me if I'm wrong). They have a monopoly over the diagnostic test for these two genes, which they charge $3000 US for.

Are companies like Myriad commonplace? Do they put a strain on R&D?

Has anyone experienced issues with gene patents when trying to do research in the lab?
 
  • #12
Ryan_m_b
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Myriad Genetics hold patents on the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes, and apparently they have been very agressive of defending these patents.
Myriad don't have patents on BRCA1/2 (as far as I am aware you cannot patent something that has naturally formed) but they do have patents in the US on the current methods of isolating and detecting these genes. In other words they currently have a monopoly on the research equipment and thus research. Wiki has a good summary:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRCA1#Patent
BRCA1 patent said:
Methods to isolate and detect BRCA1 and BRCA2 were patented in the United States by Myriad Genetics. This US patent has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. On March 29, 2010, a coalition led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) successfully challenged the basis of Myriad’s patents in New York District Court. The patent was invalidated, but the decision was appealed. On July 29, 2011 the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made their decision and ruled that Myriad's patents are valid.

Effect on Gene Testing

The conditions of Myriad’s BRCA patent require that the only laboratories legally allowed to test and sequence the genes are the ones affiliated with Myriad. This exclusive control over BRCA testing, guaranteed by the patent, has prevented peer-reviewed validation of the tests provided by Myriad.

Since the BRCA test is marketed directly to the consumer, it is not subject to government oversight by agencies like the FDA. Without this government review, gene tests must be studied and assessed by scientific colleagues in a peer review. However, the kind of studies needed to validate the tests require access to the BRCA genes, which are protected by Myriad’s restrictive patent. Thus, without access to the genes or the methods used to sequence them, peer review of the test’s effectiveness is virtually impossible.

However, the patents have yet to be enforced in Europe, where BRCA research and testing is becoming more widely available, and several laboratories are currently offering their own BRCA testing. The UK firm NewGene offers the test at a very competitive price, to the NHS, its owner, only.

Legal decisions surrounding the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents hold particular bearing on the field of genetic testing, as the field is relatively young. Until legal guidelines can be applied to the practice of gene testing, progress in the field will likely suffer due to uncertainty. Any decision made regarding the BRCA patents will likely become precedent for future disputes over the use of genes for testing.
 
  • #13
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Yeah like Ryan mentioned it's not the content itself thats patented, that is pointless, but the applications which is where the companies make money that is patented. And it's not just your breast cancer gene but many many other genes as well. Look how expensive a PCR test is in a hospital vs another test, test reason is due to some company owning the rights to it. It certainly drives up the healthcare costs like crazy.

Dont get me started on the other biologicals that are patented
 

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