In a rare unanimous decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "natural" genes cannot be patented in the closely watched case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. The outcome of the Myriad case will certainly improve the accessibility of genetic testing for BRCA mutations, which have been identified as significant risk factors for breast and ovarian cancers, but the Court also ruled that cDNA is eligible for patents because it is "not naturally occurring." A quick survey of researchers saw a mixture of good news/no news reactions in the Myriad case.
Elizabeth Iorns is on a mission to kill mutant sperm. She hopes to prevent transmission of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer by eradicating sperm carrying a specific gene mutation. Frustrated with traditional grants and private funders, Iorns raised $10,242 from 53 individuals through crowd-funding on Microryza. In return, she promised to share the chronicles of her research with her online supporters.
Bloomberg says Supreme Court's Myriad decision will set off a rush of new genomic medicine tests.
Science News interviews one of the happy plaintiffs in AMP v Myriad.
Harvard Law professor says that the devil may be in the cDNA details in Supreme Court ruling.
Slate: Noah Prywes, a grad student in chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University lays out, "The Supreme Court's Sketchy Science."
Everyone claims a victory in this Voice of America report: "Supreme Court Gene Ruling Benefits Biotech, Breast Cancer Research."
American Civil Liberties Union claims a big free speech victory in the BRCA patent decision.
Here's the actual Court decision. Writing for the unanimous Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas's explanation of DNA and genes for a legal and general audience has been singled out by a number of commentators for its clarity of presentation.
The last time Elias Zerhouni appeared before an official ASCB gathering in 2007, he was still National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director. Zerhouni had already made a big splash at the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Diego the year before when he volunteered as a judge for CellSlam, the ASCB's wildly popular stand-up science slam. By all accounts, "Dr. Z" rocked the house. Zerhouni repeated as an unflappable and untoppable CellSlam judge at the ASCB's 2007 Annual Meeting in Washington. He ended his six-year tenure as NIH Director in 2008.