Australia Explores Whether Genes Should Be Patentable

from the patenting-human-life dept

Via Glyn Moody we found out that Australia is discussing whether or not gene patents should be allowed. As you may recall, such patents have been allowed in the US for years, but are finally about to be tested in court for the first time. Over in Australia, rather than letting the courts figure it out, it looks like politicians are haggling over the question -- which is scary enough, since that often leads to whichever lobbyists have spent the most money. Hopefully common sense prevails (I know, I know, it's not so common), and the idea that you can patent a building block of human life is simply laughed out as ridiculous.

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  • identicon
    Free Capitalist, 19 Aug 2009 @ 6:20am

    experts will argue that the practice is akin to patenting the moon and is strangling vital research


    In today's environment, I wonder if Fair Use would even protect a natural carrier of a copyrighted gene sequence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 19 Aug 2009 @ 6:50am

      Re:

      "In today's environment, I wonder if Fair Use would even protect a natural carrier of a copyrighted gene sequence."

      There's a Michael Crichton book called "Next" about that very topic...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 7:22am

        Re: Re:

        I hope you're kidding. I may have to pick it up just to see....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Dark Helmet (profile), 19 Aug 2009 @ 7:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Definiely not kiddng. The book has 3 intertwining story lines, all dealing in some aspect of genetics and gene-therapy. One of the major plotlines is a gentlemen who has a gene that produces some kind of antibody used in medicine. The publically funded research done at a university is patented and the biotech company that patents it actually convinces a court that since he embodies genes they have a patent on, he HAS to make himself available for their extraction. When they refuse to do so, the company also wins a court injunction that essentially allows them to kidnap and hold the man.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Edmond Woychowsky, 19 Aug 2009 @ 10:00am

        Re: Re:

        Is Next worth reading? My to be read pile is getting kind of low.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Dark Helmet (profile), 19 Aug 2009 @ 10:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Is Next worth reading? My to be read pile is getting kind of low"

          ....meh, kind of. If you're interested in patent law, particularly as applied to advanced genetics, then yes. If you're simply a Michael Crichton fan, then possibly not. He writes this one in a style completely unlike anything he's done before: multiple storylines, short 3-4 page chapters, interspersed fake newspaper articles, etc.

          I liked it because I am a fan AND I'm interested in the subject, besides which I find Crichton to be a voice of relative reason from the conservative side. The average reader probably wouldn't enjoy it the way they enjoyed Jurassic Park, Sphere, etc.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Terrie P., 19 Aug 2009 @ 10:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Next is absolutely worth reading. Closer to fact than fiction!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          TheStupidOne, 20 Aug 2009 @ 10:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I really enjoyed it, but I'm very interested in the topics it covers

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    check my ip, 19 Aug 2009 @ 6:33am

    The funny part? the politicians will debate it and pass odd laws, and they will still end up in court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 8:38am

    I think people should see

    Gene Editing Could Make Anyone Immune to AIDS

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/06/gene-editing-co/?referer=sphere_related_content

    I see no reason why this wouldn't work. I just hope patents don't ruin it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 8:58am

      Re:

      BTW, in order for it to work one would probably have to modify the genes in the bone marrow. We've had this sort of technology for a long time and it's been used for other things, not all the bone marrow genes would have to be modified, just some so that the body can produce its own Aids resistant antibodies. It's unlikely to have any negative consequences being that only a small change is being made, people have bone marrow transplants resulting in far larger genetic changes to the bone marrow.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re:

        (or not genetic changes, rather, the genetic makeup of the bone marrow that you get from someone else from a bone marrow transplant is far more different than your own native bone marrow than the difference in the genetic makeup of bone marrow caused by the simple genetic change required to make you produce Aids resistant antibodies). To me what's amazing is that this hasn't been utilized or pushed forward or nothing. To me that's the strongest evidence that industry doesn't want to find a cure, they would rather treat you with patented drugs for the rest of your life.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 9:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          BTW, also found this interesting.

          "Bone marrow 'cures HIV patient' "

          "Doctors in Germany say a patient appears to have been cured of HIV by a bone marrow transplant from a donor who had a genetic resistance to the virus."

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7726118.stm

          The fact is that there is absolutely no reason why this shouldn't work. We have the technology to modify the genetic makeup of bonemarrow and it's been done for fixing other problems involving broken genes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Dark Helmet (profile), 19 Aug 2009 @ 9:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The fact is that there is absolutely no reason why this shouldn't work. We have the technology to modify the genetic makeup of bonemarrow and it's been done for fixing other problems involving broken genes."

            It won't happen unless there's a way for major pharma and medical industries to make as much or more money off of a cure as they do HIV treatment.

            There's been evidence for YEARS that the Nazis had come up with a way to cure several types of cancer that have been suppressed. True? Eh, not so sure about that one, but the evidence suggests that German science and health was so above and beyond the allied powers that it's suspicious te lack of attention the story has received...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 9:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Eliminating the patent system would substantially remove the incentive to suppress cures from advancing (because if anyone can produce treatment then no central source has the incentive to suppress a cure and society has very little incentive to suppress a cure being that the treatment is being sold at what it costs society and any new and better treatment could simply be copied by anyone who would otherwise want to suppress a cure). The fact is that patents harm innovation, if you have a government granted monopoly on something why should you innovate and why should not not suppress others from innovating? Look how much patents harm innovation in the pharma industry, even when congress tried to do a congressional audit to see how much R&D costs pharma refused. The fact is that if the government is gong to grant pharma a monopoly it should be an economically regulated monopoly whereby the government audits and regulates the company to ensure that the monopoly being granted is justified. If you want free market capitalism, fine, no patents. If you want government granted monopolies then they should be economically regulated and audited by the government and independent agencies to ensure that the monopolies are justified. But pharma wants it both ways, they want government sanctioned economically unregulated monopolies that last nearly forever.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Dark Helmet (profile), 19 Aug 2009 @ 10:13am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Eliminating the patent system would substantially remove the incentive to suppress cures from advancing"

                Yeah, well, be that as it may, best of luck sliding that one past a government chock full of CFR, Trilateralists, and Bilderbergers (all stemming from Rockefeller/Rothschild control). There's entirely too much money in treating diseases as opposed to curing them. I'm not sure what the answer is, since our gun ownership rights have been so violated that we can no longer initiate revolution the way our constitution says we should.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jason (profile), 19 Aug 2009 @ 10:05am

    Great!

    So, now it'll cost me an arm and leg just to get super-powers, which means I'm stuck picking telekinesis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    senshikaze (profile), 19 Aug 2009 @ 10:20am

    how many ways to say "no"

    If i have something vital inside me, say blood, and it is patented, do i owe that company money? I have genes. I OWN THEM.
    Besides, wouldn't all of Human History be prior art?
    Just saying.

    (politicians suck)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 10:58am

    Websites such as the following are a source of useful information that is oftentimes overlooked in discussions such as this:

    http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/patents.shtml

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    hmm, 19 Aug 2009 @ 5:30pm

    So if I quickly patent the entire genetic sequence of the people passing this law then I can claim ownership of those people and basically stop them passing the law?

    or at least get a court injunction to stop them transcoding DNA into RNA..well not until they obtain a rather expensive license for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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