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Taking Genes to Court

The ACLU is making its argument in federal court today against gene patenting, specifically against the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents held by Myriad Genetics. The Boston Globe weighs in with an editorial stating that allowing patents on human genes "violates the principles of patent law, stifles innovation, and casts a shadow on the best prospects to cure disease." It then concludes that "eliminating these patents would attract new researchers and sources of capital that could lead to treatments for many diseases, including Alzheimer's and cancer. It would also encourage market competition for tests and treatments based on gene sequences, saving money as well as lives." However, Kevin Noonan at Patent Docs disagrees. "On the contrary, without these patents there would be much less investment, and it is difficult to see how there could be more basic research than is already being done. "Market competition" is fine, but the concept can't be cherry-picked — the very market that promotes competition can completely stifle progress by precluding the conditions necessary to attract investment," he writes.

The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.