Sunday, May 17, 2009

ACLU vs. Myriad

2 more articles to recommend re the ACLU v. Myriad case I mentioned a few days ago.

They are:

Rebecca Skloot, writing for Double X, provides this very good overview of the issues & an explanation of what's at stake: Enough with Patenting the Breast Cancer Gene
Now the Myriad suit has come along with a strategy that’s bigger than any before it. The ACLU’s suit is the first to claim that gene patenting violates the no-products-of-nature rule. It’s also the first to evoke the First Amendment and challenge biological patents for inhibiting freedom of thought. Through its patent, Myriad owns the fact that mutations in the normal BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes make them cancerous. So it’s technically a patent violation to make that connection, even in your head. “Freedom of speech means nothing if you don’t have freedom of thought,” an ACLU spokesman said.


And from Deborah Kotz, writing for U.S. News & World Report: Patenting Breast Cancer Genes: Good for Patients? (...which includes a number of quotations from Duke University's Robert Cook-Deegan, who knows lots about these issues.)
The gene tests, which sequence a portion of a cell's DNA, are extremely complicated to perform, and there is room for error, says Cook-Deegan. But, he adds, no one knows whether women will benefit from having more companies doing the gene testing. Breast cancer patients quoted in news articles, like this one from the New York Times, say they would like to be able to have the option to have their test repeated by another lab if, say, the result comes back negative for a mutation even though several immediate family members have the disease.


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