No patent on the human gene
After the ban on patents on human genes in the USA, there was no great jubilation from the critics of patents. Reactions remained divided. The genome center in new york buried the u.S. Supreme court’s ruling, saying it created a fair and level playing field. It is now also easier to handle genetic information responsibly. In germany, however, genetic engineering expert christoph then did not see the decision as a breakthrough. "The backdoor is very rough", said the executive director of the association testbiotech, which takes a critical look at gene patents.
The nine judges of the supreme court in washington ruled unanimously on thursday that companies could no longer patent human genes. However, the ban does not apply to artificially produced genetic material, the court added. The ruling was therefore seen by experts as a compromise for the biotechnology industry. The economic consequences are still unclear.
The case concerned the fact that the u.S. Company myriad genetics had received patents for two isolated breast cancer genes, which are intended to help assess the genetic risk of breast cancer. The company then launched the corresponding tests exclusively on the market. Various organizations filed suit against the granting of patents on breast cancer genes. The tests were too expensive, critics also complained. The proceedings also made headlines because they are said to have encouraged U.S. Actress angelina jolie to have her breast amputated and artificially reconstructed. Mutated breast cancer genes were detected in jolie, the risk of disease was over 80 percent, says the actress in interviews.
German critics like then assume that the ruling will not make much difference to the monopoly position of U.S. Companies. Artificial genes, which are still patentable in the U.S., could be made relatively easily from natural DNA, he said. "This patent trick will probably have little effect on the commercial exploitation of human DNA." According to the european patent office, the u.S. Ruling has no immediate impact on regulations in europe. Patents on human genes are possible here under well-defined and limited conditions, a spokesman said. The legal basis has been preserved. New rules had to be pushed by eu bodies like the commission, the council presidency and the parliament.
The german association of research-based pharmaceutical companies (vfa) also remained calm on friday. "The ruling on patenting human genes does not apply to genetically engineered drugs", said siegfried throm, vfa executive director for research, development and innovation. Although genes that have a model in a human gene were often used to make them. But these genes have been altered in a planned way compared to nature. "It was the invention of such changes that made the production of drugs possible", throm added. The current verdict, on the other hand, deals with natural human genes.