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The Right Question?

The US Supreme Court today is hearing arguments in the Association for Molecular Pathology et al. vs. Myriad Genetics gene patenting case, bringing up the question of whether genes, particularly isolated genes, may be patented. The question the court has to consider, New York University law professor Rochelle Dreyfuss tells NPR is: "Is the thing that's isolated significantly different from the way that it was when it was in nature?" Products of nature cannot be patented.

The New York Times asks, though, whether that question is outdated. "Another question could trump it: Has the field of genetics moved so far so fast that whatever the court decides, it has come too late to the issue?" writes Andrew Pollack at the Times. He adds that whole-genome sequencing may not infringe on single, isolated gene patents and that cancer centers with such technologies are sequencing cancer genes to help determine the best treatments for patients.

"Events on the ground have overtaken the law," James Evans, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tells the Times. He adds that decision "will be much more ideological than it will be practical."

The Scan

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.

Study Finds Variants Linked to Diverticular Disease, Presents Polygenic Score

A new study in Cell Genomics reports on more than 150 genetic variants associated with risk of diverticular disease.

Mild, Severe Psoriasis Marked by Different Molecular Features, Spatial Transcriptomic Analysis Finds

A spatial transcriptomics paper in Science Immunology finds differences in cell and signaling pathway activity between mild and severe psoriasis.

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.