Molecular Biology and the Court

In its decision, the US Supreme Court describes molecular biology.

Full-text access for registered users only. Existing users login here.
New to GenomeWeb? Register here quickly for free access.

Also, to say that cDNA is

Also, to say that cDNA is "unnatural" in a technical sense is oversimplified. Endogenously encoded reverse transcriptases do make molecules that are basically cDNA, some of which end up reinserted back into the human genome as spliced pseudogenes. Such cDNA copies are not gene-specifically primed in the way that synthetic cDNAs often are, so there are certainly detailed ways to define man-made molecules, but just calling them cDNAs is not really sufficient. I could imagine this leading to legal challenges down the road.

Why be "worried" about a

Why be "worried" about a different point of view? Different points of view strengthen all peer-review processes... It minimizes the occurrence of academic/scientific inbreeding especially in the new field of epigenetics... the 'ghost' in your genes.

The natural selection process has favored biodiversity... This also includes differing opinions and points of view!

I have not read the decision

I have not read the decision directly, only the press describing it, but from the latter it appears that the decision uses cDNA to mean synthesized DNA. While it is true that cDNA is one way to synthesize DNA, it tends to be created from naturally occurring RNA molecules (e.g., mRNA) and thus might actually be a rather poor example of patentable synthesized DNA.

Will the legal precedent follow the intent, which I would hope is de novo synthesized DNA, or will it follow the cDNA language?

I did read the opinion in

I did read the opinion in detail (only 22 pages, including the 3-page syllabus) and I, too, am appalled with justice Scalia's decision that he can concur with the opinion while at the same going out of his way to state that he doesn't understand it! Even worse, he brings in "belief" into the equation: "I am unable to affirm those details on my own knowledge or even my own belief." Ouch!

The opinion is replete with imprecise or inexact language, like the utterly critical statement: "As a result, cDNA is not a “product of nature” and is patent eligible under §101, except insofar as very short series of DNA may have no intervening introns to remove when creating cDNA. In that situation, a short strand of cDNA may be indistinguishable from natural DNA."

What is a "series of DNA"? OK, we understand what it means, but it is just not correct language, and yet this statement determines a critical part of the judgment: for a cDNA to be patentable, it MUST cover a region of the genome that includes at least one intron; a cDNA probe that would come from a single exon would be identical to the sequence of the genome, and would NOT be patent-eligible.

There are many other inaccuracies or imprecise statements, including the following: "They can also synthetically create exons-only strands of nucleotides known as composite DNA (cDNA)." Say that again? cDNA stands for "composite DNA"? At least that one was in the Syllabus and not in the opinion itself.

So, yes, I concur with the author of this article and with the people he cites: this is very worrisome. And I understand why I concur with them.

Oh, BTW, the quote from Steven Salzberg (on of the sources cited in the article) contains a small doozy too: "'It's not unusual for 25 [percent] or even 50 [percent] of the nucleotides in the exons to be ignored when making amino acids.'" Nucleotides do not "make" amino acids.

Hey, having said all this, I make mistakes too; but my statements are not law.

Jeez doesn't ANYONE bother to

Jeez
doesn't ANYONE bother to read what Scalia actually wrote, as opposed to 4th hand snippets ?

If you read what Scalia wrote, you will find that this blog post - like many, many others - is completely misleading.
As far as I and others can tell, Scalia was making some snarky inside joke about the level of technical detail in teh majority opinion.