After a decade or so of legal back-and-forth between Utah-based Myriad Genetics and medical researchers, the ACLU, and the Public Patent Forum, the US Supreme Court will hear a case next week
which attempts to address whether genes — isolated (derivative) or original — can be patented
. The stakes are high on both sides: opponents use Myriad's actions to argue that giving short-term monopoly control over humanity's genetic constituency is not in the public interest, while proponents defend the use of patents to spur private research in biotech, alternative energy and other nascent industries.
In March 2010, a pair of health inspectors responding to multiple tips paid a three-day visit to the factory headquarters of the Poly Implant Prothese
(PIP) company, a leading international maker of breast implants. On their second day, the inspectors found something odd: six discarded plastic containers of Silopren, a liquid silicone designed for industrial, not medical use, lined up along the outside wall of the production site. The lead inspector estimated they had contained nearly 9 tons of liquid silicone. It now appears as if between 300,000 and 400,000 women throughout the world may have received potentially toxic, faulty breast implants containing ingredients never clinically tested on humans, manufactured and distributed by a company that knowingly deceived regulators, suppliers, distributors, medical professionals and ultimately, patients.
Reuters photographer's Blog: Operating on an implant scandal. (Last link NSFW, graphic images that contain nudity.) [more inside]
A popular New Zealand young woman's magazine's causes contoversy.
[NSFW] The online magazine asked its (mainly young, female) readers to submit anonymous pictures of their breasts so that they could be viewed and rated by others. [more inside]
An important breast cancer test is now unavailable in British Columbia
because of the American company which holds the relevant patent. The B.C. Cancer Agency
has been forced to stop the tests after legal threats by Utah-based Myriad Genetics Inc.
, which has a patent on two genes that can signal whether a woman may develop hereditary breast cancer. I think this is a perfect example of why patenting genes is a terrible idea. Via Slashdot