In 1953, the
structure of DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick. The
discovery of the genetic material of living organisms completely altered the
study of biology. Since then, scientists have examined how DNA works. The Human
Genome Project was created in 1990. The aim of the project was the
identification of all the genes in human DNA. The draft of the map of the human
genome was distributed in 2001. These
genes play an important role in human disorders and diseases. The
identification of human genes focusses on the development of new treatments. Research
into the sequence of the human genome has been commenced by research
institutes, charities, and universities.
Two different research communities published two versions of the map of the
human genome sequence. Both drafts were published in public databases. The patent system, trade secrecy, and confidentiality
have played an important role in the protection of knowledge about human genes.
system is a method, which encourages people to evolve unique and advantageous items by ensuring that they are able to capitalize
on their inventions. Patents have been used for protection of a vast range of inventions
such as new medicines or new materials.
increase in the rate of patenting of DNA sequences in private and public sector
has led to debates by researchers about the influence of this practice. Patent practice and patent law have promoted
as a consequence of these discussions. There remain, nonetheless, inquiries
about the utilization of patent law with regard to DNA sequences and involvement
in the possible consequences for the population of allowing such patents.
In the 1970s and
1980s, the modification of living organisms over genetic engineering opened up
new opportunities for the advancement of innovative outputs. Scientists were
able to propose the production of new drugs based on a human gene by inserting synthetic genes straight into a bacterium.
These drugs were enriched with new properties. Such developments expeditiously
led to a recognition of the profitable opportunities arising from genetic
modification and the advantages of protecting advancements through the
application of the patent system.
During last century, there were several attempts to
develop and apply the advanced and unique technologies. Over last 20 years, the
National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program, which is the owner
of the greatest number of patents of United States produces a large number of
genes, sections of genes and the proteins, which are used for many patent
applications. Lots of patents have been granted. The cloning of new genes,
which develop therapeutic proteins have led to the production of a collection
of new medicines, which are based on human proteins. Whilst the recognition of
genetic mutations that cause disease has been extensively applied in the
evolution of new diagnostic tests for diseases. Patents which claim equity
rights over DNA sequences have been granted in both of these areas. Many
companies that produce drugs are interested in the application of genetic
knowledge to the process of drug detection. Many more patent applications can
be expected after the completion of the sequencing of the human genome.
There were several conflicts between the calls for the
protection of data of human genome and the calls for access to these data. The
President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and the Prime Minister of the
United Kingdom, Tony Blair, made on 14 March 2000 the joint statement, which
declared that data on the human genome and DNA sequence should be publicly
available for all scientists around the world.
The patenting of human gene sequences met with several
ethical problems. This essay discusses some ethical problems surrounding patenting of human gene sequences. It also explains the
current legal situation in the UK with regard to the patenting of DNA
The first gene associated with breast cancer was discovered in 1994 in Utah. The discovery was initiated by the University
of Utah and the US company called Myriad Genetics. This gene is located on
chromosome 17. The gene has been used in several patent applications for breast
cancer treatment. In 1995, two applications for a patent
were granted. These applications asserted rights over BRCA1 gene sequence and
diagnostic tests, which can detect mutations of this gene. The same year,
another patent application was awarded. The patent can claim a number of
mutations in the BRCA1 gene. In 1996,
the patent that asserts rights over a method of identifying people with a
normal copy of the gene and those who carry seven mutations of the gene BRCA1.
In 2001, a patent that asserts rights over the diagnostic use of the gene
BRCA1 was granted. This patent is in conflict with several organizations for
its inefficacy. In 2001, the European Parliament adopted a resolution
opposing the patenting of the BRCA1 gene. Many researchers ask themselves if
patents on diagnostic tests prevent other diagnostic tests from being expanded
and used. Or if patents like those that assert rights over the BRCA1 gene
restrain further research. Scientists are dealing with these issues on daily
bases. But, there are no exact answers yet.
There are several ways in which rights can be asserted
over DNA sequences in patent utilization, there are four applications of DNA
proteins as medicines
The recognition of DNA sequences, which are involved
in a disease can provide a support for diagnostic tests. The BRCA1 gene is used
for the diagnostic test. Over past few years, a lot of genetic mutations, that
cause disease have been discovered. But, the identification of genes which
cause diseases is very complicated.