Thursday, May 14, 2009

ACLU Challenges Patents on Breast Cancer Genes

ACLU press release:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (PUBPAT), filed a lawsuit today charging that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer stifle research that could lead to cures and limit women's options regarding their medical care. Mutations along the genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are responsible for most cases of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. The lawsuit argues that the patents on these genes are unconstitutional and invalid.

"Knowledge about our own bodies and the ability to make decisions about our health care are some of our most personal and fundamental rights," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The government should not be granting private entities control over something as personal and basic to who we are as our genes. Moreover, granting patents that limit scientific research, learning and the free flow of information violates the First Amendment."

Today's lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of breast cancer and women's health groups, individual women and scientific associations representing approximately 150,000 researchers, pathologists and laboratory professionals against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), as well as Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation, which hold the patents on the BRCA genes. It is the first to apply the First Amendment to a gene patent challenge.

The patents granted to Myriad give the company the exclusive right to perform diagnostic tests on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and to prevent any researcher from even looking at the genes without first getting permission from Myriad. According to the lawsuit, such monopolistic control over these genes hampers clinical diagnosis and serves as a disincentive for research because Myriad not only has the right to enforce its patents against other entities but also has the rights to future mutations discovered on the BRCA2 gene. The gene patents are also illegal under patent law because genes are "products of nature."

More information, including a copy of the complaint, available here.

May 14, 2009 in In the Courts, Science, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Study Shows Effectiveness of Hormonal Birth Control For Men

The Independent: Birth control for men in one injection, by Jerome Taylor:

Male_symbol Scientists believe they are one step closer to developing an effective male contraceptive jab after successfully carrying out the largest feasibility study to date.

Researchers at the National Research for Family Planning in Beijing injected 1,000 healthy, fertile male patients with a testosterone-based jab over a two-year period and found only 1 per cent went on to father a child. The men were all aged between 20 and 45 and had fathered at least one child in the two years before the testing began. They were also all involved with healthy female partners between the ages of 18 and 38 who had no reproductive problems of their own.

The trial was the largest effectiveness study of a testosterone-based male contraceptive ever undertaken.

May 6, 2009 in Contraception, Men and Reproduction, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Judith Daar on Embryonic Genetics

Judith F. Daar (Whittier Law School) has posted Embryonic Genetics on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Judith F Daar Recent discoveries in the world of reproductive medicine allow prospective parents to peer into the genetic future of their children from the earliest moments of life. Armed with this information, parents can choose whether or not to continue along the procreative path by selecting or discarding embryos on the basis of their genetic composition. In making this decision, a parent's view of health and disability figure prominently, sometimes yielding outcomes that cause a larger community to rethink the concept of health.

This article explores the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to detect the genetic health of early embryos prior to implantation. Genetic selection for medical reasons is explored from three rationales: 1) to ensure the health of the embryo, 2) to ensure the health of an existing person, and 3) to ensure the continuity of a genetic trait within the family structure. Ultimately, a matrix is suggested for policy-makers to utilize in reflecting on legal strcutures to govern the use of PGD and other advancing reproductive technologies.

March 20, 2009 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)