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Association for Molecular Pathology joins ACLU to challenge gene patents
Date:5/13/2009

thical company. Rather the intent with both the revised Policy Statement and the lawsuit is to address the larger implications of gene patents. We want to prompt changes to the patent system that will resolve what we see as increasingly narrowing options for manufacturers and laboratories to access gene sequence data to develop the tests needed to make molecular medicine a reality," said Dr. Nowak.

The lawsuit charges that gene patents interfere with the free flow of information and knowledge (among researchers, doctors, patients) in violation of the First Amendment, and that patents on human genes are illegal under patent law because genes are "products of nature" and the PTO never should have granted patents on them.

The PTO has granted thousands of patents on human genes in fact, estimates are that about 20 percent of the human genome is under patent. A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene or to greatly limit those who can access the gene through the use of exclusive licensing agreement. As a result, scientific research has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents. In the case of the BRCA genes, Myriad's lab is the only place in the country that performs full sequencing of the genes for diagnostic purposes.

"AMP believes gene patents can serve as a disincentive to innovation in molecular testing because they deny access to a vital baseline of genomic information that cannot be invented around," said Dr. Nowak. "Moreover, threat of enforcement from a patent holder and ensuing litigation costs lead to a chilling effect as clinical laboratories and manufacturers are reluctant to develop new tests that could directly benefit patients. That's why this suit is so important."


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Contact: Rachel Myers
rmyers@aclu.org
212-549-2689
Association for Molecular Pathology
Source:Eurekalert

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