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Are patents on DNA sequences stifling innovation?

A report which looked at the issue of patenting new DNA sequences over a period of two years has suggested that patents may be stifling innovation rather than stimulating it. The report, which was written by the UK's Nuffield Council on bioethics, found that although newly di...

A report which looked at the issue of patenting new DNA sequences over a period of two years has suggested that patents may be stifling innovation rather than stimulating it. The report, which was written by the UK's Nuffield Council on bioethics, found that although newly discovered DNA sequences were eligible in principle for patenting, they did not satisfy the three legal tests common in applying for a patent: that the discovery should be novel, inventive and useful. It recommends changes in the patenting process to recognise the fact as gene isolation techniques have improved, it has become easier to isolate genes. Examples of the difficulties involved in patenting are given in the report. It highlights that a single gene may lead to more than one product, that further uses may be found for a gene after an original patent or that if a patent protects all uses of a sequence, the researcher may receive unjustifiable rewards.