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Patent Categories

A new study published in the European Journal of Human Genetics says that some gene patents are "problematic" as they have the potential to hinder patient access to diagnostics. Coming on the heels of the recent news from the US on Myriad Genetics' BRCA gene patents, the study examines concerns about how gene patents affect diagnosticians and patients, and develops a "patent categorization method" to determine which patents could cause a problem. The authors apply this method to patents relevant for genetic testing of spinocerebellar ataxia, the most widely used DNA test in adult neurology. The test is typically done as a gene panel covering the five most common SCA subtypes. "We show that the patenting of SCA genes and testing methods and the associated licensing conditions could have far-reaching consequences on legitimate access to this gene panel," the authors write. "Moreover, with genetic testing being increasingly standardized, simply ignoring patents is unlikely to hold out indefinitely." The current patenting landscape cannot continue as is, the authors conclude, adding that there is a need for more licensing and collaboration in diagnostics.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.