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Gene Patents, Again

A US Senate panel is considering legislation that would expand the array of subject matter that is eligible to be patented — including, possibly, genes, as GenomeWeb has reported.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held hearings this week and is to hold another hearing next week to discuss draft legislation on patent eligibility introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

If the new amendment becomes law, Futurism writes that biotech and pharmaceutical companies could be able to patent human genes. This, the Washington Post notes, would reverse US Supreme Court rulings handed down in a series of three cases — Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Inc.Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories Inc., and Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International — that said products of nature, laws of nature, and abstract ideas cannot be patented.

As GenomeWeb notes, proponents of the draft bill say it would reform patent law and bring it in line with European, Japanese, and Chinese patent laws, while critics argue it would slow medical advances and prevent competition.

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.