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SC: “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and is not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated” Woo Hoo!!! – Francis S. Collins (@NIHDirector) June 13, 2013 That tweet came from the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis S. Collins. Why is Collins so giddy? Because the Supreme Court ruled June 13 that nobody can patent your genes. (Read full decision .pdf) Collins and others at NIH, like Eric Green, M.D., the …
If there’s a medical test that could save your life, should one company have the power to set its cost so high that few people could afford it? And what if the thing that makes the company’s test exclusive is a government-issued patent on a part of the human body? That’s what is at stake in a case the U.S. Supreme Court heard April 15 that could determine whether some biotech companies, by patenting particular human genes, can completely control …
Anyone who’s watched more than a few episodes of Law & Order knows how easy it is to unwittingly get a sample of someone’s DNA — a discarded coffee cup, a used Kleenex, a few stray hairs and you’re good to go. In Dick Wolf’s world, such samples are used to catch the bad guys (or exonerate the good guys), but in real life, genetic code can reveal a variety of information, including what diseases may lurk in someone’s future. This type of genetic testing — known as whole genome sequencing — has many useful applications. But a report released today by the presidential bioethics commission reveals that many legal issues surrounding genetic privacy have yet to be addressed.