Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lawsuit Filed Over Patenting Cancer Genes

When Genae Girard attempted to get a second opinion about her risk for ovarian cancer she found out that Myriad Genetics had patented two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 associated with cancer and there was no other tests. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the patent and Girard is joined by several others in the lawsuit: four other cancer patients, by professional organizations of pathologists with more than 100,000 members and by several individual pathologists and genetic researchers. Similar to the AACS encryption key controversy, Myriad Genetics has patented a specific piece of knowledge which is otherwise readily available, here is the DNA sequence for BRCA1. As Jan A. Nowak, president of the Association for Molecular Pathology, says in article "You can’t patent my DNA, any more than you can patent my right arm, or patent my blood." The US National Institutes of Health reported that some 20 percent of the genome, amounting to thousands of genes, has been included in patents claims. For those of you keeping track, there are only about 25,000 genes in the human genome.

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