The patents for human genes include patents for genes belonging to human beings acquired in the laboratory from the human body isolated and manipulated. It would be absurd to patent a gene that is already on the human body, but I think the mechanism leading to the discovery of such a gene should be patented otherwise. The patented genes and genetic testing are bad ideas, Salzberg claims (2012). Genes should not be patented because they restrict or impact scientific development. This slows the medical development of new treatments and cures for genetic related ailments. Genes are already in existence thus they cannot be treated as inventions which can be patented.
Should the government allow this gene to be patented: Why or why not?
Several patents on such genes have been issued before by the European Patent Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office (Ossorio 2002). This can justify why the government can allow the gene to be patented, unless there is substantial limitation to the patenting of such genes due to an amendment of the law or policy. However, Gene patenting is unethical and violates the basic rules of science. It is with this respect that government should stop allowing patents of such kind.
Some think that genes should not be patented because they are medical discoveries and not an invention, and everyone should be allowed to use the information without paying?
It is essentially crucial that scientists display their medical findings and allow other individuals to further develop on such findings. Patenting prevents other people from accessing innovations hence improvement on discoveries are limited. Genes discovered are a medical discovery and not an invention. If the genes are patented, they are subjected to being paid for in any future applications. The intended use of the genes may thus not meet its potential as it cannot be readily available for use. It is thus important that the genes are not patented and as such everyone can benefit from such discoveries without paying. The government should consider the above factors and stop patents on medical discovery such as genes.
If, in the future, Genemania develops a test for this gene, should they be allowed to patent?
If Genemania develops a test for the gene, they should be allowed to patent it since it is more of an innovative process rather than a discovery. The government should allow the patenting of innovations or processes which are new and do not compromise any known law or belief.
Ossorio P., (2002) ‘Legal and Ethical Issues in Patenting Human DNA’ in J. Burley and J. Harris (eds.) A Companion to Genethics: Philosophy and the Genetic Revolution (Oxford: Blackwells) pp. 408-19.
Rosenfeld, J. & Mason, C. E. Genome Med. 5, 27 (2013).
Salzberg, S. L., The Perils of Gene Patents, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Vol. 91 no. 6, June 2012