Archive for April 2013
By: Katherine Bricceno
The long-debated question of whether a gene can be patented marked an important milestone on April 15th when the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Inc., the case challenging patents on the human BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations in these genes are linked to increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers. In 2010, the District Court of Southern New York invalidated seven patents related to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (1), but this decision was reversed by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in July of 2012 (2). However, the court did rule that analyzing cancer risk, a separate Myriad patent, constituted abstract mental steps that cannot be patented. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Katherine Donigan
The Human Genome Project was initiated in 1990 by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and other international partners (1). The aim of the project was to determine the complete sequence of the human genome, numbered at 3 billion base pairs. With the complete code at hand, scientists hoped to unlock the underlying genetic causes of human diseases and discover new methods of diagnosis and treatment. As is often the case in science, our genes proved to be more complicated than we could have imagined.
While disease associations have been linked to many different genes, the notion of “one gene, one disorder” is unlikely to be true for the most common conditions, like cancer, diabetes or hypertension (2). One gene, mutated in different ways, may be linked to different diseases. Alternatively, several genes may associate with a single disease and have varied degrees of contribution to the condition. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Lanyn Perez Taliaferro
Scientific and technological breakthroughs such as rapid genomic sequencing have increased our understanding and knowledge of the underlying molecular basis of diseases. Molecular biology research has revealed cause and effect at the genetic level; a modification in one gene can lead to a pronounced biological change. This small window into our biological system allows us to solve medical problems that we once only dreamed possible; we are able to diagnose and treat many diseases that were once death sentences. Clearly, innovative scientific thinking is essential for a successful healthcare system that will impact our overall lifespan and quality of life. Similarly, the implementation and effective use of such technologies is dependent on strong public health and science policies. As a result, science policy makers must evolve to keep pace with ever-changing advancements in science and medicine. Read the rest of this entry »