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Gene patents may hamper innovations in patient care

Gene patents may hamper innovations in patient care

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Published by tonnymjohnson
Gene patents are discoveries, not inventions and patenting discoveries may hamper future innovations in developing cost-effective patient care products and services. Banning gene patents may offer incredible opportunities for innovations that can attract investments to create sustainable entrepreneurial establishments and scientific jobs, which may be significantly higher that gene patents alone can offer. In contrast, granting gene patents may lead to innovation bottlenecks that favor fewer inventions, restricted entrepreneurial initiatives, limited job growth, and non-competitive monopoly. Read the full blog: http://www.sciclips.com/sciclips/blogArticle.do?id=1025&blog=Gene%20patents%20may%20hamper%20innovations%20in%20patient%20care
Gene patents are discoveries, not inventions and patenting discoveries may hamper future innovations in developing cost-effective patient care products and services. Banning gene patents may offer incredible opportunities for innovations that can attract investments to create sustainable entrepreneurial establishments and scientific jobs, which may be significantly higher that gene patents alone can offer. In contrast, granting gene patents may lead to innovation bottlenecks that favor fewer inventions, restricted entrepreneurial initiatives, limited job growth, and non-competitive monopoly. Read the full blog: http://www.sciclips.com/sciclips/blogArticle.do?id=1025&blog=Gene%20patents%20may%20hamper%20innovations%20in%20patient%20care

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: tonnymjohnson on Dec 13, 2012
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12/13/2012

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Gene patents may hamper innovations in patient care
 
http://www.sciclips.com
 Published online on December 11, 21012
Link to the original blog:
http://www.sciclips.com/sciclips/blogArticle.do?id=1025&blog=Gene%20patents%20may%20hamper%20innovations%20in%20patient%20care 
 
Gene Patents may Hamper Innovations inPatient Care
The impact of gene patents on fostering innovation is a highly debated topic. Several compellingarguments have been put forward to support the notion that gene patents will promote innovation andbanning gene patents will hamper current and future investments that may affect the development of future patient care products (1). Further, the long-term effects of gene patents in innovation andresearch have been considered as myths (2). On the contrary, we believe granting patent rights to anynaturally occurring biomolecules, such as genes, proteins or metabolites or nucleic acids (likemiRNA), that are relevant to biomedical applications may hamper future innovations in developingcost-effective patient care products and services.
Gene patents are discoveries, not inventions – patenting discoveries may hamper scientificinnovations
It is a well known fact that genes, proteins and other biomolecules present in humans or any otherliving organisms are naturally occurring and cannot be patented. The question is, whether naturallyoccurring genes or recombinant genes isolated from natural environment can be considered as apatentable invention? Several scientific aspects, excluding legal interpretations that will not bediscussed in this blog, need to be considered to answer this question. The foremost argument isisolation and functional characterization of a gene is a discovery, it is not an invention. If discoveriesare considered as patentable inventions, not only scientific discoveries are at stake but also it willhamper sustainable scientific knowledge based innovations that may lead to the development of innovative and low-cost patient care products, which are certainly required for reducing health carecosts. Moreover, discovery based patents are vulnerable to costly legal battles that will slow downR&D innovations and deeply destroy entrepreneurial initiatives by start-ups, which are the corethriving force behind transforming scientific discoveries into patient care innovations.Genes can be isolated and cloned using well-known technologies and such genes cannot be consideredas inventions. However, a new method developed for isolating or cloning a gene may be considered asan invention. Likewise, identification of the function of a gene or a gene mutation associated with theincidence of a disease is a discovery, it cannot be considered as an invention. The obvious reason isthe function of an isolated gene or the association of gene mutation/s with a particular disease is anatural occurring phenomenon that was not invented by researchers, rather it was discovered using
 
 
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Gene patents may hamper innovations in patient care
 
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known or inventive methods or technologies. Furthermore, isolating and cloning a natural gene in avector or other formats do not mean that the inventor will automatically get all the rights on the use of a gene that is naturally present in humans or other living organisms. In other words, if a scientist hasused inventive methods to isolate or clone a naturally occurring gene, the patent privileges should belimited to the process or the recombinant product, not extended to naturally occurring gene that is notpatentable. Likewise, discovery of a compound present in a plant species is not an invention, however,development of a novel process for isolating this compound or a method of using this isolatedcompound for treating human or animal diseases can be an invention since it is not a naturally knownphenomenon. Often, such examples have been cited to justify the validity of gene patents.It is also important to note that isolated genes are of no use unless the clinical or diagnostic ortherapeutic associations or roles of these genes have been discovered. The association of genes, genemutations and biomarkers with diseases can be dependent on several factors such as ethnicity,geographical location, environmental factors, food habits etc. Granting patent rights to an inventorwho has discovered a disease specific mutation in a gene for all possible known and undiscoveredmutations in that gene cannot be scientifically justified. Such practices may result in hampering futurediscoveries since incentives from these discoveries are automatically transferred to a third partythroughtheir broad patent claims. Gene patents should not be granted for claims with broaderapplications without scientifically validated experimental evidences, which are very critical for anyscientific inventions. Besides, patents do not follow basic scientific principles and this offer ampleopportunity for inventors to claim any hypothetical or impracticable applications of patented genes,without even considering the scientific merits of their discoveries or inventions. Consequently, thismay lead to unrealistic patent claims on clinical and commercial potentials of scientific discoveriesthat may not have any direct impact on improving patient care. If we continue with the practice of patenting discoveries, it will not only delay or prevent genuine applications of basic scientificdiscoveries but also challenge the fundamental ethical principles and values of scientific research.
Gene patents may hamper innovations in drug discovery and clinical diagnostics
Over expression or down regulation of genes can be associated with diseases and these genes can beused as therapeutic drug targets for the prevention or treatment of diseases. Likewise, over expressionor down regulation of genes can be used as biomarkers for the diagnosis of diseases. Association of genes with a disease is a natural phenomenon and identification of such association is a discoveryrather than an invention. The real use of disease specific genes will be the discovery of new drugstargeting genes or gene products that may lead to the development of novel drugs or new treatmentmethods. If a disease specific gene patent has a claim like “diseases can be treated by inhibiting thegene or gene products using drugs molecules such as, but not limited to, small molecules, proteins,oligonucleotides, antisense nucleic acids, miRNAs, antibodies, aptamers, peptides”, that could lead toa real problem. Such claims may block or decelerate promising research and development (R&D)activities related to a patented gene and destroy creativity in entrepreneurial scientist cum innovators,who could transform current limitations in clinical patient care into high potential enterprises that
 
 
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Gene patents may hamper innovations in patient care
 
http://www.sciclips.com
 Fig.1: Possible impact of patentable and non-patentable discoveries in patient care innovationsdeliver innovative patient care products through creating large number of innovation driven jobs. In genepatents, genes and gene sequences as well as further downstream applications of genes can be patentedwithout providing any supporting scientific experimental evidences. This is one of the most scientificallydisputable aspects of gene patents, which may contain dubious and impracticable claims on the utility of genes. Gene patents can also slow-down or cripple innovations in promising next generation patient carestrategies such as personalized medicine. Therefore, gene patents can be a real road block to innovationsin drug discovery research, which may have long-term positive impact on inventing new therapeuticdrugs or treatment methods, faster bench to clinics timeline, reducing mortality and morbidity fromdiseases, reducing health care costs and creating high growth entrepreneurial startups (Fig.1).

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