March 2, 2012

Take Back Our Genes Campaign Fights Restrictive Gene Patenting

The American Civil Liberties Union has launched the “Take Back Our Genes” campaign to fight against issuing patents issued human genes. The ACLU believes that allowing one company to own the patent for a particular gene limits research on genetic health conditions and also limits patient options for genetic testing.

As the organization explains:

Myriad Genetics, which controls the patents on the genes, is able to exclude others from testing and conducting research on the patented genes. Patients who want to obtain genetic testing to determine whether they are at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer have only one option for full genetic sequencing: Myriad Genetics. Myriad decides what tests are offered, which mutations are included, at what cost, and what research can be conducted without fear of patent infringement liability.

The ACLU is asking individuals to send their photos or videos explaining their opposition to gene patenting. The video below provides a great example of how gene patenting can affect patients and their access to affordable, reliable testing.

Our Bodies Ourselves is one plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Myriad Genetics, and the University of Utah Research Foundation to challenge the patents they hold on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

See our previous posts on this topic:
OBOS Joins ACLU Lawsuit Challenging Breast and Ovarian Cancer Gene Patents
Breast Cancer Gene Patents Invalidated (see later update from the appeals court)

These two recent pieces also provide good explanation of why gene patents are an important issue for patients and researchers to consider.


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