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ExpandMyMind

Firm wins right to breast cancer gene patent

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A company that owns the patents for two breast cancer genes has won a court battle in Australia contesting that ownership. The ruling sets a precedent that states isolated DNA is patentable, a judgement that could be damaging to future research and lead to an eventual hike in the cost of diagnostic tests -- over which the company already has a monopoly.

Cancer Voices Australia and a 66-year-old cancer survivor contested US-based Myriad Genetics' right to own the patent for the BRCA1 gene (it also owns the patent for BRCA2) at Australia's Federal Court, their argument being you cannot patent naturally occurring genetic material. Mutations of the two hereditary genes are linked with both breast and ovarian cancer.

In a ruling that echoed a 2012 case brought against Myriad in the US, the judge found in favour of the biotechnology firm. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Justice John Nicholas said it was a "mistake" to assume that extracting and purposefully isolating genetic mutations was not a form of "new manufacture", and that there was no need -- in the eyes of the law -- for the "product" to be very different from something that occurs in nature. Judge Nicholas' words reiterated a similar case brought against Myriad at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in the US in 2012, during which Circuit Judge Alan Lourie said: "Everything and everyone comes from nature, following its laws, but the compositions here are not natural products. They are the products of man, albeit following, as all materials do, laws of nature."

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/15/australia-breast-cancer-gene-patent

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They have won the right to patent something from nature?

That's insane!

There should be a law against this, I thought there was.... Which is why pharmacutical companies have to make synthetic versions to patent them.

Edited by Coffey
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It seems like a massive hindrance to cancer research and treatment. I believe that with fatal diseases and afflictions, the scientific community should be forced to work together - not separate as businesses - without the ability to corner certain 'markets' and areas of these sciences through patenting. The entire process should be some form of open-source.

It's like the patents for AIDS and HIV drugs that deprive the people of Africa, where the virus is by far the most widespread.

Edited by ExpandMyMind
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It seems like a massive hindrance to cancer research and treatment. I believe that with fatal diseases and afflictions, the scientific community should be forced to work together - not separate as businesses - without the ability to corner certain 'markets' and areas of these sciences through patenting. The entire process should be some form of open-source.

It's like the patents for AIDS and HIV drugs that deprive the people of Africa, where the virus is by far the most widespread.

Quite a change from the kind of scientific nobility shown by Roentgen. He discovered and published everything that was of any importance about x-rays and gave it to the world free. Can you imagine a patent on such a discovery today?
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It seems like a massive hindrance to cancer research and treatment. I believe that with fatal diseases and afflictions, the scientific community should be forced to work together - not separate as businesses - without the ability to corner certain 'markets' and areas of these sciences through patenting. The entire process should be some form of open-source.

It's like the patents for AIDS and HIV drugs that deprive the people of Africa, where the virus is by far the most widespread.

They are all greedy and care about money, ot peoples lives. That's the whole problem.

They block smaller companies who try to make a difference.

The Africa/HIV thing was caused by a pharmicutical company int he first place. Bayer was caught out when one of their drugs was found to be contaminated with HIV. They where forced to pull it off the US and European market, but carried on selling it in Africa knowing full well it was contaminated.

This same company makes loads of pharicuticals, it's one of the biggest. It evne makes things like Rennies.... lol

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Can I counter sue? I never gave up the right to my genes, they're in my body, they belong to me - if I happen to have a breast cancer gene, well that's mine, I've had it since birth fgs. How in the heck have we come to this? I can comprehend a patent on the means of isolating the gene but it is downright diabolical that they could "patent" the gene itself, they did nothing to create it - why are there not firms who hold patents on zebras and elephants etc? What's the difference?

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Can I counter sue? I never gave up the right to my genes, they're in my body, they belong to me - if I happen to have a breast cancer gene, well that's mine, I've had it since birth fgs. How in the heck have we come to this? I can comprehend a patent on the means of isolating the gene but it is downright diabolical that they could "patent" the gene itself, they did nothing to create it - why are there not firms who hold patents on zebras and elephants etc? What's the difference?

I learned of a similar situation when I was in radiography school in the early '90s.

Apparently the courts have already ruled on the issue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa

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I'm entirely not surprised by this.

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Can I counter sue? I never gave up the right to my genes, they're in my body, they belong to me - if I happen to have a breast cancer gene, well that's mine, I've had it since birth fgs. How in the heck have we come to this? I can comprehend a patent on the means of isolating the gene but it is downright diabolical that they could "patent" the gene itself, they did nothing to create it - why are there not firms who hold patents on zebras and elephants etc? What's the difference?

I think it will be a matter of time before someone will try to sue. If they consider that they 'own' the breast cancer gene and it is killing and making people ill it should then be considered as any other 'product' on the market that is damaging the population. They should be sued after all the gene causes breast cancer and they own that gene and they are responsible for any results and outcome of owning such a gene. They are then responsible for curing a problem their owned gene caused and the victims should be fully compensated.

It is rather stupid and it would probably open a Padora's box of other stupid ideas of ownerships .

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I learned of a similar situation when I was in radiography school in the early '90s.

Apparently the courts have already ruled on the issue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa

Ok so that patient had no right to her cancer cells because they were "discarded" by her, however, I should have the right to mine if I stipulate that they remain my property regardless of their location or whom I may choose to allow to utilise them at any time, meh it's such a joke what greed will lead men to.

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I think it will be a matter of time before someone will try to sue. If they consider that they 'own' the breast cancer gene and it is killing and making people ill it should then be considered as any other 'product' on the market that is damaging the population. They should be sued after all the gene causes breast cancer and they own that gene and they are responsible for any results and outcome of owning such a gene. They are then responsible for curing a problem their owned gene caused and the victims should be fully compensated.

It is rather stupid and it would probably open a Padora's box of other stupid ideas of ownerships .

lol, that is a fun idea, unfortunately I can't see it holding water - although placing the argument out there might cause an insecure company pleb or two to start claiming "no, they are not OUR patented genes" won't that be funny.

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We can argue its bad or good, ethical or not till the end of times. But there is (as always) the other side of the coin:

"Gene" patents have not hindered research on BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 and Myriad has never denied, opposed or impeded any research studies on these, or any other, genes. Further, more than 18,000 scientists have researched the BRCA genes, publishing more than 9,000 research papers.

The cost of the BRACAnalysis test is not prohibitive and patient access is extensive. Myriad has provided close to one million patients with BRACAnalysis test results. Approximately 95% of appropriate patients in the United States have access to BRACAnalysis either through private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or Myriad's Financial Assistance Program, which provides coverage at no charge to low-income, uninsured patients. Over the past 3 years alone, more than 5,000 patients have benefitted from this assistance program.

Lastly, second opinion testing is available for patients with positive test results in a number of U.S. laboratories, including a large reference laboratory licensed by Myriad in 2001.

(link)

and

First-mover advantage is no guarantee of early success. Myriad Genetics, which makes diagnostic tests to detect predisposition to cancers, burned through more than $500 million over 17 years before turning a profit.
(link)

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