nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Can a human gene be patented?

Medical groups, patient support groups, the ACLU, and others filed suit today to disallow companies who isolate human genes from patenting their results.  USA Today reported the suit against Myriad Genetics, and the University of Utah Research Foundation, who have "isolated the DNA sequence for the BRCA1 and...the BRCA2 genes," which have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, and "Myriad sells a test for the genes."

There's an argument here between plaintiffs and defendant.  Myriad argues that the patent is for "isolated DNA molecules" and the testing technique rather than the gene itself.  However, it seems to me that the DNA and the gene are one and the same.  Companies patent their tests all the time, but they don't patent the reagents that are used to perform the test.  This will be an interesting issue to watch.

Parenthetically, it seems strange to patent a gene...it sounds like trying to get a patent on a finger, or a spleen.

Doc D

Opinions are entirely my own.

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