HEALTH/SCIENCE: Gene patents under fire, new genomes & bioterrorism

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Oct 07 2001 - 08:30:58 MDT

This week's Nature 413:443 is reporting that Paris's Curie
Institute is planning on filing a formal protest on Myriad
Genetics diagnostic patent on the BRCA1 gene. In the past
Myriad has moved to block U.S. hospitals from doing their
own tests and instead require that they use their rather
pricey ($2680) test.

Here's an indicative quote:
"The substance patents now being given to the human genome are
inappropriate and endanger research and medicine. Information
about the human genome can't be invented. It is the common
heritage of all humans," says Otmar Kloiber, senior executive
of the German Medical Association."

Its a swamp from an extropic point of view. If you don't allow
patents, getting investors to fund research at companies like
Myriad is much more difficult. If you do allow patents, then
you end up with higher medical care costs.

(subscription required).

Also of note - the publication of the Yersinia pestis genome
sequence (the causative agent of the plague).



The New Scientist has a summary here:

Of note, the genome is "unusually fluid", read -- it can easily mutate
into more dangerous forms.

And this *very* interesting report of the fact that the Aum Shinrikyo
sect apparently sprayed non-pathogenic anthrax over Tokyo for 24 hours
in July 1993:

Just kind of makes your day, doesn't it.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:12 MDT