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How Human Genes Become Patented - Can a Corporation Own Your DNA?

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posted on May, 17 2009 @ 01:26 AM

Here's a little-known fact: Under current law, it's possible to hold a patent on a piece of human DNA, otherwise known as a gene.

Companies that have acquired patents for genes have specific rights to their use, which may include diagnostic tests based on those genes, as well as future mutations that are discovered.

In a new lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union alleges that the policy is unconstitutional.

How Human Genes Become Patented

[edit on 17-5-2009 by silo13]

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 01:26 AM

It's hard to believe, but private companies hold the patent rights to some of the genes in your body. The companies say the patents help them develop new treatments for serious diseases. But this week, a group of cancer patients and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming the patents put them in danger

Legally, this could be a free-for-all.

While the courts and Congress are inclined to protect genuine invention, genes exist naturally in the body. And if you can't patent natural products like water, the argument goes, how can you patent DNA?

"Common sense should tell everybody that it's wrong to allow a private company to own a body part," ACLU attorney Chris Hansen said.

[edit on 17-5-2009 by silo13]

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 01:29 AM

"The patent law says nothing about ethics.”

Josephine Johnston, bioethicist at the nonpartisan Hastings Institute, said she thinks that allowing patents for human genes was probably a mistake. She said she would draw the line at modified genes being acceptable as intellectual property, but not genes in pure form. From a legal point of view, that would mean unmodified plant and animal genes would also be off-limits.

In a moral argument, however, one could say that there is a "common humanity" -- that human genetic material belongs to all humans -- or agree that no plant or animal genes should be patented.


[edit on 17-5-2009 by silo13]

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 05:48 AM

Genes are the basic units of heredity in all living organisms.

But genes are naturally-occurring parts of our bodies, not inventions. Researchers identify genes, they don't invent them. U.S. law recognizes this differentiation; there is long-standing legal precedent that "products of nature" are not patentable.

Nevertheless, the USPTO has ignored this obvious discrepancy for roughly 20 years and has proceeded to issue gene patents on the basis that genetic sequences are "isolated and purified."

These steps – simple enough for any graduate student in genetics or a related field to perform – do not make a gene patentable, any more than removing gold from a mountain makes gold patentable. This is why we are suing the USPTO, to get them to stop issuing such patents which are contrary to the law.

Who benefits?

As a result, information taken from the human genome (DNA information) is being transacted as it has economic value. Western countries own the majority of this DNA information. Patent law is being utilized for legal protection of such DNA information. Pharmaceutical companies, then, endeavor to develop innovative drugs using DNA information


The fear being:

If, perhaps, a specific gene of a person who has some valuable trait, such as AIDS immunity, is sequenced and these results are different than that in any other knowledge base, then it can be held as a 'valuable secret', until such a time as someone else acquires the same genetic material and sequences it. (Patent is now for 20 years)

So, your DNA is taken at birth and/or in the hospital during routine or invasive testing.

Your genes now are *owned* and become critical assets to Biotech Companies and Big Pharma.

Once this gene is *owned* you are barred from having your own genes *harvested* for future testing - Even to aid in your therapy, recovery or to obtain for second opinions.

Slowing down the research process for all humans, who reaps the benefit of your genes?

Follow the money.

You’re body is not your own.


[edit on 17-5-2009 by silo13]

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 06:02 AM
Well they can't own mine...I bought the patent 14 years ago!

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 02:29 PM

Well they can't own mine...I bought the patent 14 years ago!

I’ve no idea what you’re talking about - but - your post serves at least one purpose - a segue into my next point.

There are people who are patenting their own genes - in order to stop Biotech companies and Big Pharma from patenting genes and closing the possibilities of studying and creating cheap medicines for the good of all human kind.

Read “Who Owns My Disease”

The story of a family who’s children came down with a life threatening disease - the parents working to discover the PXE gene to create a cheap test for other children. So far they’ve found the gene, but, do not know how it works.


posted on May, 17 2009 @ 04:54 PM
Patenting a gene should be illegal because what if they sued someone because that someone sold her natural gene to another company, which has the ability to prevent cystitis fibrosis?

Because the gene is the same one that the original patent company found and patented in another individual, That someone else who holds the natural gene does not own her gene and cannot sell it, because another company found it in someone else and patented it as the 'Amazing CF Blaster?'

This world is getting crazier with these idiots in charge.

Someone think of the children of the future

Some of these goofs are actually trying to patent plants found in the wild.

HOW does that work? They didn't create it!


posted on May, 18 2009 @ 12:15 AM
reply to post by star in a jar

Hi Star

Someone think of the children of the future!

See that’s what I’m trying to get to the bottom of.
I got way thrown off putting this thread together due to freezing computer and the edit not working correctly (hitting edit and the edit not showing up) - But - I’m trying desperately to dig myself outta the hole I’ve created.

Anyway, that is exactly my question - what you asked about the children.

In this case I see two big questions.

~ Companies have NO right, in my option to literally own our bodies - and once creating the patent baring any other company from doing research.

~ On the other hand - it’s vitally important - or so I’m learning - for the research to continue - truly I believe it will revolutionize the whole medical industry.

It will literally make the health industry as we know it today look like hellish witchdoctors (which for the most part they are)!

A big thanks to Whisper for cluing me in to some pertinent information (see the thread here)

Quote from me on Whisper's thread -

I’ve recently tried to put together a post on genes and Biotech companies patenting patients genes.
Not quite finished with it but the debate is - in patenting genes, a company literally *owning* your unique body - will this be beneficial to humans, or not. (Once again our rights being disregarded for the good of the *all* - when it’s really the good of Big Pharma)...

Anyway - I fell into this post and the The Promise of Personalized Medicine - The X Prize Foundation.

Imagine the day when you and your doctor sit down to review a copy of your own personal genome. This vital information about your biology will enable your physician to inform you of your disease susceptibilities, the best ways to keep yourself healthy and how to avoid or lessen the impact of future illness.

The use of personal genetic information to predict disease susceptibility and guide proactive care has the power to transform our entire healthcare system.

So I've got a lot to think about now!
Patent vs. transforming health care, rights of a person vs. benefits to the whole species...

In conclusion - the problem seems to be the ethics behind the companies who hold patents (for 20 years don’t forget) treating these genes in an ethical and responsible way for the good of the *All*
- or -
Keeping them *secret* or not allowing the usage of these *your* genes for the good of the companies financial advancement alone.

Thanks Star

[edit on 18-5-2009 by silo13]

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