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Key cancer patents killed

A federal judge ruled yesterday (March 29) to invalidate seven patents related to two genes associated with breast cancer, casting doubt on the thousands of other patents covering human genes. Image: Wikimedia commons"If a decision like this were upheld, it would have a pretty significant impact on the future of medicine," Kenneth Chahine, a visiting law professor at the University of Utah, linkurl:told the New York Times.;http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/30gene.html Chahine filed an

By | March 30, 2010

A federal judge ruled yesterday (March 29) to invalidate seven patents related to two genes associated with breast cancer, casting doubt on the thousands of other patents covering human genes.
Image: Wikimedia commons
"If a decision like this were upheld, it would have a pretty significant impact on the future of medicine," Kenneth Chahine, a visiting law professor at the University of Utah, linkurl:told the New York Times.;http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/30gene.html Chahine filed an amicus brief on the side of Myriad Genetics, which held the patents for the genes in question, BRCA1 and BRCA2. About 20 percent of human genes have been patented, and currently support billions of dollars worth of industry. linkurl:A study published earlier this month;http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WG1-4YK2F2W-1&_user=10&_coverDate=03%2F10%2F2010&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=37b70c97b21342dc6d1086d01d75a2af in Genomics argued that one of the patents should linkurl:never have been granted;http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/925.page in the first place. The 1998 patent for BRCA1 is too broad, according to the study -- containing more than 300,000 oligonucleotides, many of which were part of 80 percent of the cDNA and mRNA sequences in GenBank before the patent application was even filed. Genes, as products of nature, should not be patentable, and the patents for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were stifling breast cancer research, argued the American Civil Liberties Union, the Public Patent Foundation at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, and others challenging the patents. Patent holders Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation, however, claimed that the process of isolating the DNA transforms it in a way that makes it patentable. Judge Robert W. Sweet sided with the plaintiffs, saying that the patents were "improperly granted" because they involved a "law of nature." If this decisions stands, Chahine said, "the industry is going to have to get more creative about how to retain exclusivity and attract capital in the face of potentially weaker patent protection."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Gene patents -- too broad?;http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/925.page
[17th March 2010]*linkurl:Patents for cancer genes?;http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/857.page
[10th February 2010]*linkurl:Concern over BRCA2 patent;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22678/
[16th May 2005]
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Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 6

March 30, 2010

The only reason why a researcher, or anyone else, patents his discovery is to make money. And my opinion is the same, genes, as products of nature, should not be patentable... and patents are stifling research in general. Why don't open the discovery to be used by researchers, as a universal team, to enhance scientific knowledge? What do we need, $$$ or a cure against cancer? \nWhen humankind has really suffered enough and want to be healed, he will choose health instead of $$$.\n
Avatar of: ROBERT HURST

ROBERT HURST

Posts: 31

March 30, 2010

This is a wonderful ruling. Nobody should be able to patent a gene itself. A test for carcinogenic mutations is a different matter entirely and should be patentable, but the gene itself, no.
Avatar of: Luigi Palombi

Luigi Palombi

Posts: 2

March 30, 2010

My PhD thesis and my book Gene Cartels (published 2009) says everything that Judge Sweet says in his decision. That it's taken a federal court decision to vindicate the argument that the isolation and purification of a human gene is insufficient to transform it into patentable subject matter, which is common sense and conforms with the views of eminent scientists like Prof Sir John Sulston, demonstrates just how easy it is for patent lawyers and their clients to subvert the patent system. And this is just one example. There are many. Apart from gene patents there are business method and computer software patents. By the way, the European Biotechnology Directive actually uses the rationale which Judge Street uses to invalidate Myriad's BRCA patents to overcome the inherent prohibition on the patenting of biological materials that occur in nature. It's about time that the European Parliament repealed the Directive.

March 30, 2010

We can be sure that this judgment will spark the fiercest battle on patents we have seen in history. But it has to be fought and won. \n\nThe biotech industry can be compared to the conquistadores invading the New World: they grab and steal all they can. That's not civilization but barbary, that's not science but pure greed. What will be left for those who come after these invadors?\n\nIt's about time to rein in the logic of maximum profit in matters of human health and welfare. Patents like BRCA1 and BRCA2 should have never been granted in the first place. Patents on genes should not be granted, no more than patents on oxygen and natural elements. \n\nBiotechs can invent ways to tweak the genes and use them. They have lots of space to play and lots of ways to make money. But then anybody can try to do better. That's the way progress is made. The patent's regime of the moment is probably the biggest obstacle on this path. May it rest in peace.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 5

March 31, 2010

This ruling just means that the biotech / pharma industry should go back to the basics of science (and stop trying to patent anything to own each and every ensuing related diagnostics / therapies).\n\n...and rather patent ways of avoiding / healing a disease after the gene is discovered and published, than the gene(s) itself (much much more work of course).\n\n...maybe more collaborative job with the academia ahead for this industry.\n\nAt the end, there will be only winners (and especially among patients), although it is true that is might be quite a change !\n\nAt the end, it is really good news !
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 6

March 31, 2010

hi all\n\n1) Unless the government starts paying the whole load to discover, develop, and validate new drugs and diagnostics, the private sector will need to do it. Which means capitalism. You want new drugs? New tests? Then you must accept that people are doing it to make money. To make money these folks need the exclusivity that patents provide. Kill patents, kill the financial risk-taking required to bring new drugs and diagnostics to market, kill new drugs and tests. It is quite simple. Think clearly, folks!\n\n2) This decision will be appealed. The outcome is uncertain. The headline is premature as is any serious celebrating or mourning.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

March 31, 2010

No one is trying to kill patents. I just don't think that a company should be able to patent something that they did not make or discover. These patents are analogous to Disney deciding to patent Florida, then telling everyone living there to leave, letting no one drive through or fly over without paying, and heaven forbid some other company or private citizen mention Florida in passing.\n\nYou can patent the test methods but you can't patent life.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 6

March 31, 2010

Patenting... patenting... If at least patenting to really help human health! The sole and unique reason why they are patenting is to make money. There is a lot of money, more than we ever need, but it is not used in the good way. Instead of taking MM$$$ to fight in the far far east, use it to help science unfold the human mysteries and to develop new drugs and new tests. Patenting is stopping science progress, no matters about what is patented. More the researchers will work together in the same way by sharing their discoveries, more rapidly we will understand cancer and other illnesses.\n\nIt is a matter of ego. It should be a matter of heart.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

March 31, 2010

I hold many (granted) gene sequence patents. That's what the early USPTO opinions on gene sequence patents forced US pharma and biotech biologists to do to have a chance at continuing our research. \n\nEuropean Patent Office opinions on gene sequence patents were much more reasonable from the start. It is typical for parts of our experiments to be done overseas in our European labs because we're not allowed to violate sequence-based patents in the US. \n\nI believe that most US pharma biologists would agree with me that it's high time the US realized that granting gene sequence patents is ridiculous, because there is simply no inventive step involved. \n\n
Avatar of: Sergio Stagnaro

Sergio Stagnaro

Posts: 59

April 1, 2010

in a previous comment of mine posted on PLOS web site (Stagnaro Sergio. Single Patient Based Medicine: its paramount role in Future Medicine. Public Library of Science. 2005. http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=read-\nresponse ), I referred to my earlier researches stating that, as a working hypothesis, I thought a long time ago that all chromosomal alterations, of whatever nature, of both n-DNA and m-DNA, are necessarily accompanied, according to Angiobiopathy Theory with similar microvascular modification of the local microcirculatory bed, both structural and functional in nature, i.e. microcirculatory remodelling in subjects involved by abnormalities of pschyco-neuro-endocrinological-immune system, that's, in malignancy biological control system, I defined as Oncological Terrain(1). As a matter of fact, both genetical and environmental factors, induce contemporaneously parenchymal and microvascular cells alterations, according to the well-known concept of Tiscendorf?s Angiobiotopie, I completed with above-mentioned Angiobiopathy Theory new concept (1,3, 4, 6, 7). In a few words, all oncological cell-dependent events (control, regulation, duplication, a.s.o.), may happen only by means of singular changes in local structural and functional microcirculation, which notoriously supplies information-material-energy to related tissue cells (See my web site www.semeioticabiofisica.it and particularly the linked site Microangiologia.it). In fact, now-a-days, thanks to Biophysical Semeiotics, we can fortunately evaluate clinically microcirculatory bed structure and function in a precise manner of breast cancer as well as of all other biological systems, including lymphnodes and bone-marrow, assessing clinically local vasomotility and vasomotion (1-6). Evaluating properly the type of microcirculatory activation of breast cancer as well as of lymphnodes and bone-marrow (type I, associated, physiological; type II, intermediate, partially dissociated, characteristic of real oncological risk, and finally type III, dissociated, indicating cancer onset) we can evaluate in a quantitative way the alterations of physiological relation between vasomotility (= chaotic deterministic oscillations of small arterioles and arterioles, according to Hammersen, on the one hand, and vasomotion (= chaotic deterministic oscillations of related capillary and post-capillary primary venules), since the intensity of such as dissociation is correlated with the seriousness of underlying oncological disorders. \n Finally, I recently discovered that both Biophysical-Semeiotic Constitutions (2) and human disorder Real Risks are based on microvascular remodelling, principally caused by newborn-pathological, type I, subtype a), oncological, and b), common to all other disease risch Endoarterial Blocking Devices (8)\n\n1) Stagnaro Sergio, Stagnaro-Neri Marina. Introduzione alla Semeiotica Biofisica. Il Terreno oncologico. Travel Factory SRL., Roma, 2004. \nhttp://www.travelfactory.it/semeiotica_biofisica.htm\n\n2) Stagnaro S., Stagnaro-Neri M., Le Costituzioni Semeiotico-Biofisiche.Strumento clinico fondamentale per la prevenzione primaria e la definizione della Single Patient Based Medicine. Ediz. Travel Factory, Roma, 2004. http://www.travelfactory.it/semeiotica_biofisica.htm \n\n3) Stagnaro-Neri M., Moscatelli G. Stagnaro S., Biophysical Semeiotics: deterministic Chaos and biological Systems. Gazz. Med. It. Arch. Sc. Med. 155, 125 ,1996 \n\n4) Stagnaro-Neri M., Stagnaro S., Deterministic Chaos, Preconditioning and Myocardial Oxygenation evaluated clinically with the aid of Biophysical Semeiotics in the Diagnosis of ischaemic Heart Disease even silent. Acta Med. Medit. 13, 109 ,1997\n\n5) Stagnaro-Neri M., Stagnaro S., Semeiotica Biofisica: valutazione clinica del picco precoce della secrezione insulinica di base e dopo stimolazione tiroidea, surrenalica, con glucagone endogeno e dopo attivazione del sistema renina-angiotesina circolante e tessutale – Acta Med. Medit. 13, 99, 1997 \n\n6) Stagnaro-Neri M., Stagnaro S., Deterministic chaotic biological system: the microcirculatoory bed. Theoretical and practical aspects. Gazz. Med. It.; Arch. Sc. Med. 153, 99, 1994 \n\n7) Stagnaro-Neri M., Stagnaro S.,Teoria Patogenetica Unificata. Ed Travel Factory, Rome, 2005 www.travelfactory.it.\n8) Stagnaro-Neri M., Stagnaro S., Reale Rischio Semeiotico-Biofisico. Ruolo Diagnostico e Patogenetico dei Dispositivi Endoarteriolari di Blocco neoformati-patologici. Ed Travel Factory, Roma, Luglio 2009. \n \n
Avatar of: Dov Henis

Dov Henis

Posts: 97

April 1, 2010

RNA Or DNA Genes, Organisms, Should Not Be Patentable\nOrganisms Should Not Be Patentable\n\n\nKey Cancer Patents Killed\nhttp://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57265/\n\nAll organisms, regardless of size, natural or modified by humans, should not be patentable.\n\nOtherwise where is the limit??? \n\nMy wife of few years might yet apply to patent me...?!\n\n\nDov Henis\n(Comments From The 22nd Century)\n03.2010 Updated Life Manifest \nhttp://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/54.page#5065

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