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Dangers of Gene Patents | American College of Pathologists November 10, 2007

Posted by ramunas in cancer genetics, genetic testing, media, personal.

Currently over 20% of 25-30000 human genes are patented most of which do not have yet exact function defined. Even more yet are under the way. Research and identification of a new genes predisposing to the cancer, which affects 1 in 4 person in the population, is of high priority worldwide.

Patents for low/medium penetrance susceptibility genes and sequence variants which can serve as genetical markers of all cancers as well as commercialization of common methods for a common germline mutation detections in particular human cancer genes could seriously suspend the wide public availability of such tests, especially in a developing and limited resources countries where current health care system is bellow good quality standards and further make inequalities in the health care service.

This is an excerpt of my opinion, which I’ve published a year ago on BioForgeNet, an open source biological community portal.

This year on Oct. 30 American College of Pathologists submitted a statement Oct. 30 to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee s Subcommittee on Courts, the
Internet and Intellectual Property, stressing that current practices in the patenting and licensing of genetic sequences must be reexamined to ensure that gene-based diagnostic tests are widely available and affordable for the greatest public benefit.
The statement, provided for a hearing titled Stifling or Stimulating The Role of Gene Patents In Research and Genetic Testing, outlined the impact of gene patents on medicine and healthcare and urged support for recently introduced legislation that would prohibit patents from being obtained that would harm patient access, quality of care and training of health providers.
According to the College s statement, when patents are granted, subsequent exclusive license agreements, excessive licensing fees, and other restrictive licensing conditions prevent physicians and laboratories from providing genetic-based clinical testing services.
Consequently, it continues, patient access to care is limited, quality of patient care is jeopardized, clinical observations as the basis for new discoveries are compromised, and training of health care providers is restricted.
The Frist Ganske Law protects physicians from patent infringementlawsuits, but does not extend the same protection to laboratory personnel. The College supports efforts to amend Frist Ganske to provide this protection to pathologists and other laboratory.
The Genomic Research and Accessibility Act, H.R. 977 would prohibit patents from being obtained for a nucleotide sequence, or its functions or correlations, or the naturally occurring products it specifies.
The College declared its support for H.R. 977, and will continue to work with lawmakers on recommendations for legislation that would prevent intellectual copyright protections from limiting laboratory physicians access to genetic information and impeding potential breakthroughs in genomic and proteomic research.

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