Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Who owns your genes?

  1. Apr 27, 2013 #1
    There is currently a case before the Supreme Court involving a company that has a patent on a human gene that is a predictor for breast cancer in women.


    Bold mine


    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award


    bolding mine

    What a great idea. I do hereby patent oxygen. That'll be a penny per breath, thank you very much. :tongue2:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2013
  4. May 6, 2013 #3
    Split off from the monsanto thread
  5. May 6, 2013 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This issue is overblown. Linked through the CNN article is a description of the underlying issue and its associated long and solid legal precedent.

    The article itself though errs in stating that "products of nature" are at issue unless,
    1. The USSC is inclined to overturn a mountain of precedent.
    2. The USSC is inclined to make a special exception for human "products of nature".

    Further discussion: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_patent
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  6. May 7, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    In cases like this, I'm always curious to know why downplay the process? Patent the PROCESS you follow to extract the information.

    You don't have to patent the dirt you're going to dig... just the shovel.
  7. May 26, 2013 #6
    The only problem is that this sort of concern stems from an idea that humans are altruistic and would pursue/fund vast medical discoveries without any incentives what so ever. Maybe I'm just an ethical egoist, but that would probably slow progress a million fold. These patents, etc, need to exist in order to create profit for companies so that we can continue to forge advancements. Why do you think vaccines were ever invented and utilized to begin with? It's cheaper to prevent than to treat. But I will agree that if it's holding back doctors from using the information, something needs to be done. Perhaps a greater more fluid method of exchange.
  8. May 26, 2013 #7
    Myriad didn't invent the genes, they are products of nature, they merely found them.


    My personal opinion is that they have nothing to patent. The genes have existed for thousands of years.
  9. May 28, 2013 #8
    This topic is much more complex than I had thought at first glance. Now I am wondering if the Supreme Court has the expertise to make a valid decision. It is apparent that the lower courts failed to comprehend the sequences as small as 15 nucleotides.

    From one of the best in depth links that I have found:

    Bold mine


    If the Supreme Court rules against Myriad a large number of other patents will be affected. Then again now is the time to decide if we are going to in any way patent any element of the human body.

    The cows I don't care about from an ethics point of view, yet I don't think that anyone will ever make, build, or produce a genuine cow component. No matter how they slice it or dice it they can't produce it without the cow.
  10. May 28, 2013 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Simple answer, I own my genes. There is no room for debate. I'm not going to risk another infraction by saying what I would do to anyone who tried to control my DNA. Leave it suffice to be said that the result would not be pretty.
  11. May 28, 2013 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Contrariwise, would you agree that you DON'T own the process to identify or manipulate those genes?

    If anything, genetic processes should be covered by copyright law. You can't patent a word, or even a sentence. But you can copyright a particular arrangement of them. And if you create a device that types out specific words or finds those words in large books, you can patent the device and even the process.
  12. May 28, 2013 #11
    Bold mine

    As I see it you have just hit upon what is in question. Myriad did not patent the method, they patented the genetic sequences.

    From the link above Myriad's patent covers:

    I see this as more of a test case since Myriads patent expires in 2015.
  13. May 28, 2013 #12
    the desire for a profit is there, so is the market. The patent reduces risk, as would collaboration. But why share profits when the specific patent law exists.
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  14. May 30, 2013 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yes, of course. My first post on this thread was about my curiosity as to why anyone would seek to patent a gene sequence. In my mind, it's a big like patenting a sentence: a conglomeration of bits of information assembled to form something greater than the sum of its parts.
  15. Jun 7, 2013 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I agree with everything in that post. As was shown in subsequent posts, though, that is not what they're trying to do.
  16. Jun 13, 2013 #15


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  17. Jun 13, 2013 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    So, if it is modified, it's not naturally occurring, and can be patented. Seems reasonable.

    - See more at: http://www.jcvi.org/cms/#sthash.selkff2M.trOANSsI.dpuf
  18. Jun 13, 2013 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Who owns your genes?
  1. Who owns the fish? (Replies: 2)

  2. Roll your own Sushi (Replies: 28)

  3. Creating your own (Replies: 9)

  4. For Your Own Good (Replies: 7)