TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

You can't patent DNA: A commonsense ruling

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

There was a rare convergence of common sense, the law, science and all of the applicable political “isms” last week in the Supreme Court's ruling that human genes cannot be patented.

Simply put, separating a gene from its surrounding genetic material “is not an act of invention,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas for a rare unanimous court.

But that's exactly what Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City did. And the U.S. Patent Office awarded Myriad patents for two mutated gene sequences, the existence of which can predict if a patient is at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer.

Yet the patents on the unpatentable had a number of perverse effects. Not only did they allow Myriad to monopolize the price of testing, they limited the ability of other scientists to conduct their own research on the genes.

The bottom line of the ruling is that research will become more competitive (the court held that Myriad and others can seek to patent synthetic, “complementary” genes of their invention, and their testing and screening processes can remain protected), the cost of testing for these marker genes will fall and the door will be flung open to more and varied research sure to result in even greater advances.

Otherwise, as Mr. Justice Thomas noted, there would be “considerable danger” in stifling innovations that would be the antithesis of patents —“which exist to promote creation.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Editorials

  1. So, where’s the I-70 ‘Welcome to Pennsylvania’ sign on the Pa.-W.Va. border?
  2. Regional growth
  3. The Fiat Chrysler mess: Government’s virus
  4. The wind ruse: A failed policy
  5. Pittsburgh Tuesday takes
  6. The Export-Import Bank: The Senate’s shame
  7. Yes, the IRS targeted conservatives
  8. At the VA: The waiting dead
  9. Greensburg Tuesday takes
  10. Sewage rate issues
  11. Connellsville police seek help in crime crackdown