Monday, April 5, 2010

No Genes for You

A federal judge has ruled that biotech company Myriad Genetics can't patent human genes. I know what you're thinking. "Why the fuck was anyone ever allowed to patent a human gene?" Well, it's because not everyone's a dirty communist like you. See, Myriad and other companies have been filing patents on genes they've isolated and "purified" so that they can license medical research on those genes. In this particular case, Myriad patented the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. So anyone looking to develop new treatments for these cancers based on research involving these genes would have to give Myriad some money. Everybody wins. Well, except for future cancer patients who would like that research done cheaply, openly, and quickly. But they're probably communists, too. Myriad is, of course, appealing the ruling, since it goes against the current patent law. It's likely this case will end up in the Supreme Court, which has previously ruled in favor allowing patents on genes. It'll be up to the ACLU and others who are suing Myriad to show that the genes being patented aren't significantly different than those occurring in nature. And it'll be up to the godless communists to whine about putting scientific freedom and basic human decency before making a few bucks off the helpless. Whiners. More details here.