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To Patent or Not to Patent?

Speaking to the Guardian's Alok Jha, John Sulston — the British Nobel Prize-winning researcher who led the UK's work on the Human Genome Project — says scientists and lawmakers mustn't allow corporations to patent human genes. Sulston says that "human genetic information must be kept in the public domain to allow researchers to analyze it and to give members of the public fair access to medical treatments," Jha writes, giving as an example the Myriad Genetics patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. But that's not all Sulston is concerned about, Jha adds. Craig Venter's work with synthetic life also worries the British researcher. "What that advance is being used for is an attempt to monopolize, through the patenting system, essentially all the tools for genomic manipulation," Sulston tells Jha. "It's actually the case that monopolistic control of this kind would be bad for science, bad for consumers and bad for business, because it removes the element of competition."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.