U.S. may end DNA patents; Biotech Industry on notice Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Sunday, 31 October 2010 09:45

The US government, in a move that may signal a reversal of its position in a dispute central to the biotechnology industry, has filed a court brief saying that isolated DNA cannot be patented. The federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. This news could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.

Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.

At this point, according to several published reports, is not clear if the position in the legal brief will be put into effect by the Patent Office.

''The chemical structure of native human genes is a product of nature, and is no less a product of nature when that structure is 'isolated' from its natural environment than are cotton fibres that have been separated from cotton seeds or coal that has been extracted from the earth,'' the Justice Department said in the friend-of-the-court brief filed on Friday.

 The news is very likely to draw protests from biotech companies which will insist that these patents are vital to the development of diagnostic tests, drugs and other  personalized medicine drugs which are tailored for individual patients based on their own genes.

 Edward Reines, a patent attorney who represents biotechnology companies told the New York Times: “It’s major when the United States, in a filing, reverses decades of policies on an issue that everyone has been focused on for so long."

 In its brief, the government said it now believed that the mere isolation of a gene, without further alteration or manipulation, does not change its nature.

“The chemical structure of native human genes is a product of nature, and it is no less a product of nature when that structure is ‘isolated’ from its natural environment than are cotton fibers that have been separated from cotton seeds or coal that has been extracted from the earth,” the brief said.

The Feds Come Out Against Gene Patents. It’s About Time.

The US Patent and Trademark Office has taken the position in the past that genes can be patented if they are ''isolated from their natural state and purified'' although patents are not allowed for rules of nature, natural phenomena or abstract ideas.

As Bloomber Reports, Myriad makes a test for detecting breast cancer. Medical groups say its tight control over use of the genes has discouraged scientists from exploring other options for breast cancer screening.

Rejecting Myriad's patents ''would lead to the invalidity of thousands of biotechnology patents, and effectively unravel the foundation of the entire biotechnology industry'', the company said in a court filing in December. ''Numerous therapeutic drugs and diagnostic tests in development would be jeopardised.''

The brief was filed in connection with a case involving two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

Government lawyers also claimed the reversal would not severely impact the biotechnology industry, arguing the new position would not affect man-made manipulations of DNA, such as genetically modified crops or gene therapies.




"Featured Content" profiles are meant to provide awareness of these companies to investors in the small-cap and growth equity community and should not in any way come across as a recommendation to buy, sell or hold these securities. BiomedReports is not paid or compensated by newswires to disseminate or report news and developments about publicly traded companies, but may from time to time receive compensation for advertising, data, analytics and investor relation services from various entities and firms. Full disclosures should be read in the 'About Us Section'.

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Digg! Reddit! Del.icio.us! Mixx! Google! Live! Facebook! Technorati! StumbleUpon! MySpace! Yahoo!

blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Newsletter