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.
An influential US advocacy group has set a deadline to beat breast cancer by 2020. But it puts public trust at risk by promising an objective that science cannot yet deliver. [more inside]
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]
Etsuko Uno and metafilter's own Drew Berry have released three new animations illustrating breast stem cell differentiation, a control mechanism for the process, and how this relates to carcinogenesis. [more inside]
October's focus on breast cancer is a curvy pink double-edged sword and those in the fight agree. [more inside]
Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers. That's the good news. The bad news is that because there's no patent and it's so cheap to make, researchers may not be able to get funding from the private sector for further research since the treatment wouldn't make a profit. [Via Hullabaloo.]
Scientists in Australia have discovered a new gene. Called BRCA3, this genetic mutation causes up to 10% of the breast cancer cases which run within families. This breakthrough completes the search for the trilogy of gene mutations. The first two gene mutation markers were discovered in 1994 and 1995 respectively.