You know what they say: "I'll believe that corporations are people as soon as the State of Texas executes one." Or Florida.
You can't forbid patenting of living organisms, because that rules out legitimate intellectual property like plant hybrids, the bacteria that have been created to eat oil spills, and the pond scum/algae that produces fuel. If the people making those things can't get a patent, we lose some really valuable biotechnology.
Actually, I think what we're seeing here is another case of the damage caused by crappy science journalism. They're reporting that this company is PATENTING YOUR GENES!!!! OMG!!! when the truth is that they patented their artificial copy of the gene. There may well be problems with that, too, but the sensationalistic, incorrect reporting is blocking us from understanding the real issues.
Bunnykicks, I don't think that the gene has been patented with any sort of promise to help anyone. The company made the artificial (lab-created) copies of the gene and patented them. They made a test using these copies to compare to patient DNA, looking for mutations, in order to make money. They exist to make money, not to help anyone. Yeah, it's cruel. I totally agree with you. No, there is no corporate altruism. I think this is why we need to place more controls on corporations, in general. But, we have to let them make some money if we want them to do research or develop tests, therapies or cures.
LOL...yes, I totally agree with you that making a deal with a corp is like making a deal with the devil!
Patenting the gene in exchange for the implicit promise of something coveted (i.e. "the cure"),
reminds me in some ways of "striking a deal with the devil/selling your very soul."
I want research to proceed as much as anyone, but I balk at the human race effectively being held hostage to corporate (economic) interests with a "let us own you... and then maybe we'll be inclined to help you" sort of sense.
I had much rather them patent the gene than the method of diagnosis because patenting the method of diagnosis would really, severely, limit other genetic testing.
The method of diagnosis is to compare the lab-created copies of the normal (without mutations) gene (which is what has been patented) with the patient's DNA, looking for mutations in the patient's DNA.
I'd really rather them patent the gene used in the test (to compare the patient's DNA to) rather than patenting the method. Many genetic tests use this same method of diagnosis. Would you allow only one test of this sort to be done for 20+ years...the first one ever developed? Hadn't you really rather that this entire method of diagnosis (looking for mutations in general or looking for specific mutations) be available for use in a lot of tests for different diseases?
BRCA1 is expressed in the cells of breast and other tissue, where it helps repair damaged DNA, or destroy cells if DNA cannot be repaired. If BRCA1 itself is damaged, damaged DNA is not repaired properly and this increases risks for cancers (see BRCA mutation). Methods to diagnose the likelihood of a patient with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 getting cancer were covered by patents owned or controlled by Myriad Genetics
Myriad didn't invent BRCA1 so why should they own a patent for it? IMHO It should be a patent for their Method of diagnoses and not the gene?
The cure for breast cancer and a lot of other cancers is surgery. Surgery is the best hope for a definitive cure. Secondary to that, we have chemotherapy and radiation.
You cannot patent surgery. We already have patents on most of the chemotherapy agents and on a lot of the components that go into the machines that deliver radiation therapy.
No company does anything to benefit mankind. There really is no such thing as corporate altruism. They exist to make money.
I don't think you can say that we should allow companies to patent cures, but not genes. Research is more specific than that. Companies which do genetic research do genetic research, they mostly don't do research on chemotherapy agents or other curative agents. If we start telling companies they can't patent tests or genes, but only cures, then we make the road for them a lot longer than it currently is. It can take decades to find a gene for something. It can take decades beyond that to find a cure (if a cure is even possible). I think that saying companies can only patent cures would really discourage research on most conditions for many reasons, incluing: 1) the timeline would become too long and who can afford to spend decades developing a test followed by decades looking for a cure, all the while waiting for a return on investment, 2) we would drastically reduce the possibility of them ever being able to make back the money spent on research for to develop tests for diseases, and 3) a lot of conditions are not curable and may never be curable. Research would practically cease on any condition thought to have a lower chance of being curable. Besides, then people would be mad if there was a cure for a disease and the cure cost too much for most people to afford.
I agree with you dragonchilde. Our entire patent system needs to be reworked. We need to find a middle ground where companies can still benefit, but the public benefits a little more than it currently does. I definitely think we need to find a way to stop patents from slowing scientific research.
Our entire world is ruled by money and the quest for money.
Edited by: LOVE4KITTIES at: 6/10/2013 (14:25)
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
9,661 6/10/13 2:12 P
The patent system is *broken*. I mean, there are entire companies whose entire business model involves buying patents that are ideas, and then suing the pants off of anyone who dares create something that might be related to that for licensing fees.
The Monsantos of the world own the government at this point, though. It won't change. There's too much money to be made.
another problem with patents on genes seems to infer that other companies would be restricted from doing research to find cures. That type of competition slows the search for the cure on all kinds of diseases. It's one thing to create a patent for a cure, it's another to discover a living thing that exists and put a claim against it so that other companies can't use it to benefit mankind.
I agree with you obiesmom, but I think that we also need to remember that no one would have discovered the retrovirus without research and no company is going to spend money to do research just to give it away and not make money on it. It's not economically feasible. They would go out of business.
Really, I am not at all a fan of corporations. I think we should have much tighter controls on them and I am furious that they have somehow arranged to have themselves recognized as "people." They are NOT people, IMO. I am also highly upset at how much control they have over us and over our political process.
But, I do understand that they have to make money or they will go out of business.
There has to be a middle ground, IMO. But, we cannot expect them to just spend millions and millions of dollars on research and just give their discoveries away without making at least a fair profit.
If we want research discoveries to be given freely, then I guess we could publicly fund all of this research and development. But, I'll bet that a lot of people would have problems with that and then we would also get into arguments about public money being used for research into things that certain groups of people object to... This would also slow scientific progress.
Edited by: LOVE4KITTIES at: 6/10/2013 (13:55)
Fitness Minutes: (40,069)
4,472 6/10/13 1:43 P
it's really sad when egos & business interests slow or stop the progress of important health research.
how many millions of people died from AIDS while the US & French labs battled over who discovered the retrovirus? How many more because it didn't make 'business sense' for the blood banks to use a screening test that was only about 85% effective at finding HIV tainted blood?
when somebody does the right thing and says THIS IS WRONG, they are pretty much on their own. One person can make a difference, but it's really difficult when it seems the whole world is against you.
The issue is a lot more complex than how it's being portrayed, both in this thread and in the media. The company doesn't actually own your genes, it has just patented artificial copies (made in the lab) of the genes. This means that other companies are prevented from making their own artificial copies of these genes, making their own tests to test for these genes, etc.
On one hand, I can see the benefits of allowing these sort of patents--we want companies to do research to find these genes and to develop tests for them so that we can do these sorts of genetic tests which allow people to find out if they are at risk for (or carry or have) diseases caused by genetic mutation. The research is expensive and companies won't do it if they aren't going to make money. Companies would also stand to lose money if they paid for all the research to find the genes and then other companies could just use this research and develop their own tests (or just wait and copy a test already developed)--the companies who did these things could offer their tests for less money because they wouldn't have to make back any money to pay for all the research, etc. that goes into finding these genes and developing tests for them. So, on one hand it helps us (the general population) to allow these patents because we want companies to do research and develop tests.
On the other hand, patents on these sort of things also tend to prevent others from doing research into these genes and this can slow down scientific progress. This can hurt us because we want our knowledge regarding diseases and treatments for those diseases to progress as rapidly as possible. The length of time that these patents are valid also hurts us, in my opinion because they last 20 years and then there are ways to apply for extensions.
I think that we need to reach some sort of a middle ground. Maybe we should grant these patents, but limit them to 10-12 years (no extensions). If this would be enough time for companies to make back the money that they have spent researching/developing, plus make a reasonable profit, then they would still have incentives to do this sort of research and we would benefit. But, then others would be able to expand on that research sooner and the cost of the tests would drop sooner (as soon as there was competition from other companies who had developed their own tests). I also think that we should not allow patents on genes to stop others from doing research into those genes because this slows progress and, in doing so, hurts everyone. So, I think that these sort of patents should prevent competition, but should not prevent others from doing research.
Having said that, I will say that even though I am a scientist, my understanding of these issues is not complete. They are very complex issues (more related to business than science, really) and I would need to do a lot more research to completely understand all of the issues. I do think that there has to be some sort of a middle ground, though, so that companies can still benefit, but where science can proceed at a quicker pace and the public can benefit more.
Overall, I think that our society in general has a very big tendency to become very reactionary very quickly as soon as someone mentions anything having to do with genes. I think this has to do with a couple of different factors and is mostly related to our need to do a better job of educating people so that they have a better understanding of things.
These intellectual-property-rights are going WAY too far.
Living organisms should not be patent-able. The practice of doing so is relatively new (over the last decade or so)... and benefits ONLY the multinational conglomerates that use these patent rights to wield monopoly-control over vast empires of wealth (yes, Monsanto, I'm looking at YOU).
There mere notion that the components of MY BODY could be held by a Corporate Patent is beyond any kind of Big Brother scenario that anyone could have envisioned back in 1984-and-prior....
And in the Land of the Free...................... ironic, much?
Fitness Minutes: (1,180)
132 6/10/13 12:58 P
It reminds me of "Orphan Black." :)
I think that it's a definitive line. I don't know how governments could allow it.
[At the same time, if it goes through and the genes that are patented are linked to specific issues, the companies who hold the patents should be held responsible for any fallout for their meddling with genetics.] (If Myriad owns the patent on breast cancer mutation genes, they can bloody well pay for the medical bills related to those conditions for those with the genes.)
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are gene mutations, which raise the risk of breast, ovarian and certain other cancers. The Supreme Court is scheduled to rule some time this month on that question – a suit filed against Myriad Genetics for its PATENT on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.
Opponents of patenting human DNA say a ruling in favor of Myriad will MEAN COMPANIES CAN OWN YOUR GENES. The patents set off a cascade of effects, opponents argue: it gives the company a Monopoly on the Test that can identify whether patients have the BRCA mutations So Other Companies CAN'T Offer Their Own Tests As A SECOND OPINION. . There's also no one to compete with the Myriad's $3,000 price tag on the test.
Trust business fo figure ways to make money on the lives of people.
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