The study also painstakingly classified the supposed 'claims' of more than two thousand US patents and found the majority did not actually claim the gene sequence itself, but rather its use for particular purposes.
"A patent is a government grant of a limited exclusive right to try to stop others' use of an invention," Professor Jefferson said.
"When that invention is a gene or protein sequence present in a living organism, it raises serious social questions that deserve serious consideration, especially when that sequence is used for an important genetic test or diagnostic."
Cambia's open sourced PatSeq toolkit, which forms part of its global web resource The Lens, provides the first open public insight into this contentious practice, using sequences extracted from millions of global patent documents, coupled with cutting edge web-based software.
Launched at a gathering in Australia this week, The Lens' PatSeq database already holds more than 120 million DNA sequences and 10 million protein sequences drawn from patent documents.
The PatSeq toolkit allows anyone to explore, at no cost, who has sought patents over genes and proteins in any organism, and includes:
"Perhaps the toolkit's most important feature is that all findings can be embedded and shared with anyone, anywhere at no cost, allowing researchers, policy makers and concerned citizens to explore the evidence underlying this practice," Professor Jefferson said.
"The public and indeed enterprise and policy makers need to know the answers if we're to have a transparen
|Contact: Kate Haggman|
Queensland University of Technology