With voices raging hard against patenting of gene in United States, Boston Editorial Globe is acknowledging the importance of gene patents to biotechnology.
Gene patenting is one of the most obvious controversial subject and over the past three decades, much of the ink has been spilt about the ethical issues related to it, in particular with regard to the issue of
patenting DNA sequences isolated from the human genome.
The issue of gene patenting gained limelight when a Utah based diagnostic firm, Myriad genetics was granted a patent on two breast cancer related genes BRCA1 & BRCA2. Myriad having the patent right is the sole provider of these tests related to the genes in United States while blocking other laboratories from offering tests based on those genes. The patents created much controversy and were soon brought in the court of justice. In the recent judgement, as mentioned in editorial US District Court Judge Robert Sweet sided with the plaintiffs by ruling that Myriad’s claims over “isolated’’ BRCA genes are invalid because the genes are “not markedly different’’ from DNA that exists in nature, and phenomena of nature are not patentable. The judgment is itself questioning the novelty criteria defined by Patent laws, which states that genes “isolated and purified” creates requisite novelty.
Having said this, there is still of course need to address, the very legitimate, and clearly urgent, question of whether gene patents serve the larger goal of advancing medical research and promoting the creation of therapies. Intellectual property has been expanding with the advancement of science & technology, and there is an utter need to devise new rules through the panel of experts; rather than developing new system in courtrooms.
When the human genome was mapped it was thought that it will revolutionize the treatment of incurable disease. What they didn’t expect that it genes would also be patented like the as inventions. Gene patenting has been under attack for several years. Inventions do not move from the laboratory to the marketplace without a huge investment of money, time, and effort.
Perhaps there is need to address this issue by the congress, with discussing the pros and cons of allowing these kinds of patents to remain valid and continue to be granted, as whole future of modern biotechnology industry is dependent on it.