No to gene patents, says Euro group

Patents should be granted only for genetic tests, not for genes and DNA sequences, a working party from the linkurl:European Society of Human Genetics;http://www.eshg.org/ (ESHG) and linkurl:EuroGentest,;http://www.eurogentest.org/ a European Union-funded initiative to improve linkurl:genetic testing;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14181/ in Europe, said at a press conference on Thursday (April 24) according to linkurl:Medical News Today.;http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/105

By | April 28, 2008

Patents should be granted only for genetic tests, not for genes and DNA sequences, a working party from the linkurl:European Society of Human Genetics;http://www.eshg.org/ (ESHG) and linkurl:EuroGentest,;http://www.eurogentest.org/ a European Union-funded initiative to improve linkurl:genetic testing;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14181/ in Europe, said at a press conference on Thursday (April 24) according to linkurl:Medical News Today.;http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/105478.php The recommendations are the result of a four-year investigation and a series of workshops involving the ESHG's linkurl:Public and Professional Policy Committee;http://www.eshg.org/PPPC.htm (PPPC) and the linkurl:Patenting and Licensing Committee;http://www.eshg.org/plc.htm (PLC), in consultation with a large number of scientists, ethicists, lawyers, and technology transfer specialists. "Nowadays, identifying new genes is very obvious, and all the methods are well-established, so it should not be patentable anymore," Ségolène Aymé, a medical geneticist at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris and head of the PPPC, told The Scientist. "What is patentable is the inventive process — if you can describe how to use a gene for a specific purpose — but not the gene itself." The ESHG group is calling for new models for licensing within existing linkurl:patent;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53497/ legislation, rather than a complete overhaul of the genetic intellectual property protection system. Their recommendations will now be taken to the European Patent Commission and the European Parliament. Aymé said the European Patent Commission hurt the research environment by granting a number of patents for genetic claims that were too broad. "Most of the problems come from patents granted for bad reasons," she said. The PPPC is urging better training for genetic patent reviewers and the use of a scientific advisory committee to evaluate the scope of patent claims. "The main debate now is not if genes should be patented or not, but rather are we stopping inventions because too many patents are preventing researchers from getting licenses," said Aymé. The PPPC's recommendations are linkurl:published;http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v16/n1s/abs/5201929a.html in the May issue of the European Journal of Human Genetics.
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Avatar of: Ossama El-Tayeb

Ossama El-Tayeb

Posts: 2

April 29, 2008

There was a time when life forms were freely exchanged by all as part of the planet's heritage. This was the basis of most of the current food and fiber production world wide. Wheat is not indigenous to the wheat belt, and most of the life forms we enjoy were developed by other peoples and imported to our countries for free. Once this concept is breached there is no solid rational for excluding human genes: in what sense are they different from bacterial genes? Neither of them qualifies as "inventions". Such discrimination between genes can be based mainly on ethical grounds. Biology should be excluded from patenting, even if we have to revert back to public funding and public "ownership", and even if this means some delay in progress - which will not take place anyway considering the huge volume of such research world wide. Penicillins remained a major wondor therapy for 3/4 century despite being not patented and unpatented drugs of natural origin remain the only therapy available for 1/3 of humanity.\nPatenting life forms is both immoral and contributes to human suffering by depriving the poor from a cure that is available. Its main value is enriching biologists and companies which employ them.

April 30, 2008

I salute the ESHG's decision to disallow gene patents. This was such an obvious issue that the people in charge should have foreseen the consequences of patenting genes from the get go. It is never too late to reverse a bad precedent.

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