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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Judge rules against patenting human genes

By Deborah L. Shelton



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Should a private company be allowed to patent a human gene?

That question lies at the heart of a landmark legal case that some are calling the Brown v. Board of Education of genetic science, a field whose advances are increasingly guiding the medical decisions of consumers and doctors.

A federal judge this week threw out a Utah company's patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer, siding with scientists and health advocates who argue the firm cannot legitimately patent a product of nature.

The plaintiffs said the company's monopoly on the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes prevents competition that could lower testing costs — now about $3,000 — and means patients cannot independently verify information that can lead to drastic medical interventions, such as removing breasts to avoid cancer.

Scientists also say the patenting of human genes impedes research that could lead to better diagnostic tests and treatments.

"Many people are understandably disturbed by the idea that corporations are staking claim to the common heritage of humankind," said Jesse Reynolds, a policy analyst for the Center for Genetics and Society, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization. "This is part of what makes us who we are. ... How can they claim information that is in all of our bodies?"

Biotechnology companies say gene patents protect their investments in costly research and spur scientific innovations. About 20 percent of human genes, or about 2,000, already have been patented, including some associated with asthma, colon cancer, Alzheimer's disease and muscular dystrophy.

Officials at Myriad Genetics, the company that holds BRCA patents, declined to answer questions but issued a statement expressing disappointment with the court ruling, which is being appealed and likely will go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Notwithstanding today's decision, we are extremely proud of what Myriad has been able to accomplish over the years in promoting women's health in the area of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer," company president and CEO Peter Meldrum said in the statement. "Countless lives have been saved as a result of our efforts in concert with the health care community."

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation represented plaintiffs in the case, which included geneticists, individual patients, women's health advocates and scientific organizations representing researchers, pathologists and laboratory clinicians. The University of Utah Research Foundation, which holds the patents with Myriad, was also a defendant.

Dr. Mark Stoler, president of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, one of the plaintiffs, said the case goes beyond issues surrounding BRCA testing.

"It's about the whole principle of patenting parts of the human genome such that laboratory testing or information derived from those genes is of limited availability and limited use," Stoler said.

"How this plays out is uncertain," said Barbara Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, another plaintiff. "But everybody has a stake in this — patients, people who might become patients, researchers and corporations that patent."

Women who carry mutations of the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes are at greatly increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Men who carry the mutation face a higher risk of prostate, pancreatic and other cancers.

Myriad holds patents not only on genetic tests but on the genes themselves and ideas about how they work. Other companies and scientists must receive permission to do research involving the genes. In some cases, they pay a royalty fee that critics said was often exorbitant.

Lawyers for Myriad had argued isolated DNA containing BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 gene sequences could be patented because it was different than that occurring naturally in the human body.

But in his ruling on Monday, Judge Robert W. Sweet of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said he was drawing on "long recognized principles of molecular biology and genetics."

"DNA represents the physical embodiment of biological information, distinct in its essential characteristics from any other chemical found in nature," the judge ruled. "It is concluded that DNA's existence in an 'isolated' form alters neither this fundamental quality of DNA as it exists in the body nor the information it encodes."

"Similarly, because the claimed comparisons of DNA sequences are abstract mental processes, they also constitute unpatentable subject matter," he said.

Dr. John Ball, executive vice president for American Society for Clinical Pathology, said the patents created barriers in the free flow of information vital to scientific advancements.

"We think this ruling now decreases the barriers that people will have to their own genetic information," Ball said. "We think it's going to get them more opportunities for better patient care, second opinions or retesting, and eventually decrease costs as other companies are able to develop tests."

When Myriad's BRAC test was developed, technology to do the necessary gene sequencing was unavailable outside of the company, Ball said. But virtually all labs now offer molecular testing that makes it possible to develop tests, he said.

"Tests that cost $300 end up costing $3,000 because of the patent monopoly that the company has," said Lori Andrews, a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who has studied the impact of gene patents. "I've heard that some labs can even do it for $30."

Several of the plaintiffs in the case were women who said they couldn't afford the expensive Myriad test.

Reynolds said financial issues related to patents have clouded medical research.

"We have cases where researchers are reluctant to publish data and share it with colleagues until their patent rights are secure," Reynolds said. "In some ways profit motives can spur innovation, but at the same time this has created some dangerous situations where public-funded research is leading to not only significant private profits but conflicts of interest and cutting of corners."

Dinah Banks, 52, of Bellwood, Ill., said her positive test for BRCA-1 helped her make difficult decisions about her treatment.

Banks had a lumpectomy in her left breast in 2002 and then a second lumpectomy when cancer was detected in her right breast last year. After learning last fall she was a carrier of BRCA-1, she decided to have both breasts removed to lower the chance of a recurrence.

She said she is perplexed about why any company would want exclusivity on any aspect of breast cancer research.

"There's so much money being raised for cancer research," she said. "Why would someone try to have a monopoly over trying to find out ways to keep people alive?"

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