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Great New Test, or Patent Infringement?


Helicos Biosciences has published a new paper in Genome Research reporting a new single-step capture and sequencing method to detect BRCA1 mutations. To simplify DNA sample preparation and lower the costs of the procedure, the Helicos researchers developed a system "in which any gene can be captured and sequenced directly from human genomic DNA without amplification, using no proteins or enzymes prior to sequencing." Unlike many PCR-based methods that require additional steps to detect mutations, single-molecule sequencing can detect any size insertion or deletion directly, the team adds. This could make genetic tests cheaper and more accessible to a wider range of patients.

At his blog, Cancer and Your Genes, Matt Mealiffe wonders whether such a test would step on some intellectual property toes. "It may be important that their single molecule sequencing method does not involve any DNA amplification," he says, but it's still unclear if such a test would infringe on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents held by Myriad Genetics.

The Scan

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.

Circulating Tumor DNA Shows Potential as Biomarker in Rare Childhood Cancer

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that circulating tumor DNA levels in rhabdomyosarcoma may serve as a biomarker for prognosis.

Study Recommends Cancer Screening for Dogs Beginning Age Seven, Depending on Breed

PetDx researchers report in PLOS One that annual cancer screening for dogs should begin by age seven.

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.