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The Government's Two Cents

The US Department of Justice has dropped what the Genomics Law Report's Dan Vohaus and John Conley are calling a "minor bombshell" on human gene patents debate. In an amicus brief filed last week, the DoJ argued that that isolated human genes shouldn't be patentable, which directly contradicts longstanding US Patent and Trademark Office policy, Vorhaus and Conley report. Turna Ray at our sister publication Pharmacogenomics Reporter has more detail, here.

Overall, the government's position is that "genomic DNA that has merely been isolated from the human body, without further alteration or manipulation, is not patent-eligible," the DoJ brief reads. Vorhaus and Conley say they're surprised the government has even filed a brief at all, and expect that the initial reaction from the biotech industry will likely be that of "concern."

At the Genomics, Evolution, and Pseudoscience blog, Steven Salzberg says it's rare and "very refreshing" to see "such sensible scientific reasoning from lawyers." The implications of any decision arising from this case are likely to stretch beyond just Myriad and the BRCA genes, he says. If DoJ's position is upheld, it could have implications for almost every gene patent, Salzberg says, adding his opinion that "it's about time."

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.