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Gene Patenting - Pro's vs. Con's

  1. Jul 12, 2012 #1
    Hi,

    There is a lot of controversy over gene patenting. What are your thoughts on the subject?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2012 #2

    Mech_Engineer

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    I think my genes belong to me.
     
  4. Jul 12, 2012 #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.
     
  5. Jul 12, 2012 #4

    lavinia

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    What do you think of the part about Monsanto in the documentary, Food Inc.?
     
  6. Jul 12, 2012 #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.
     
  7. Jul 12, 2012 #6
    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.
     
  8. Jul 13, 2012 #7

    Ryan_m_b

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    Gene sequences that have been created in a lab can be patented
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_patent
     
  9. Jul 13, 2012 #8

    Ouabache

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    You may want to catch an earlier thread we have regarding this topic (created 9 yrs ago) "Should genes be patented?".
     
  10. Jul 13, 2012 #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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  11. Jul 13, 2012 #10
    I'm sure many people would love to patent this.
     

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  12. Jul 13, 2012 #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?
     
  13. Jul 13, 2012 #12

    Ryan_m_b

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    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
     
  14. Jul 13, 2012 #13
    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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