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Rivals clash over rights to our genes

作者:华翻    发布时间:2019-03-07 12:08:01    

By Andy Coghlan MOVES by a private company to secure patents on 6500 human genes have been condemned by the alliance of government and charity-funded labs leading the Human Genome Project. Celera Genomics of Rockville, Maryland, was formed last year by veteran DNA sequencer Craig Venter. The company claims it has sequenced 1.2 billion DNA bases—one-third of the human genome—within the past month alone. And last week it announced that it is seeking patents on a wide range of genes, including those for hitherto unknown cell receptor molecules, ion channels and signalling molecules. Members of the Human Genome Project, including the Wellcome Trust charity in Britain and the US National Institutes of Health, are furious that Venter appears to have broken his earlier promises not to patent human genes en masse (New Scientist, 23 May 1998, p 4). “It’s what they said they were not going to do,” says John Sulston, director of the Sanger Centre near Cambridge, which is coordinating the Wellcome Trust’s sequencing effort. The trust has vowed to challenge in court any patents which it considers invalid or so wide-ranging that they would restrict research by other groups. However, Celera says that the 6500 applications are provisional, and that it may end up submitting fully fledged applications on as few as 200 genes. The company also admits that its sequences still need to be checked to eliminate overlaps and duplications. “We need to sequence 10 times to get an accurate picture,” says a spokesman. The official genome project made this a priority from the start. “In the public domain, one-quarter of the genome has been sequenced at good accuracy,

 

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