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DNA patent blocking by prior art

  [vote for,

Do not ask me if this is a good or bad idea, I don't know, but I have an aversion to "your money, or your life" medicine.

Put simply, it's a device that generates possible combinations of ATGC just as alphabetic code. Once these mentioned in public, that's prior art, and so no patent.

My problem is this, webspace is cheap these days, but doing a quick calculation on gnumeric just to to do the first 24 combinations would take (at 1000 a second) 1115.68912001624 years.

Just wondering if any halfbaker knows a slight shortcut?

I expect to be fishboned within 2.54cm of my life for this one...

not_morrison_rm, Sep 08 2014


       First, no to the idea. A patent is protection for the item itself. Therefore simply having published the letter sequence will not prevent it from being patented.
MechE, Sep 08 2014

       Second, no to the concept. If a biotech company can't make money of the results of their research, the end result is that they won't do the research. Yes, it's bad that there are treatments out there that people don't have access to simply because they can't afford it. But at least the treatment exists, and when it does come out of patent protection, more people will have access to it.   

       If you don't like that approach, fine. Raise the several hundred million it takes to run a research and clinical trial program, and give the results away free, but don't expect others to.
MechE, Sep 08 2014

       More fundamentally, a patent is supposed to protect something associated with a "use". If you can't specify an associated use for a particular DNA letter sequence (like a gene that codes for a particular protein), you can't get a patent. Note that the Human Genome Project already has ALL the letters in average human DNA, and I do think it is public data....
Vernon, Sep 08 2014

       As an aside, if it is a naturally occurring sequence, it's no longer patentable in the US. A use for it may be, but the genes themselves are not.
MechE, Sep 08 2014

       What everyone else said.   

       You can't patent (anywhere, as far as I know) a naturally-occurring sequence, even if there's no prior art. What is patentable is an application - for example, a test to detect if someone has a particular sequence, as an indicator of disease susceptibility etc.   

       The idea that evil corporations can patent our own genes out from under us is a straw gibbon.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 08 2014

       // Raise the several hundred million it takes to run a research and clinical trial program, and give the results away free, but don't expect others to.//   

       Actually, they already have. The human genome sequence is publicly available, and was from Day1 of the project. (There was a parallel commercial project, but in the end it was beat hollow by the public project.) Several billion dollars' worth of research was done and given away for free.   

       The same is true of almost all other genomes - they are made available free online from day 1. There are exceptions - for example, some crop species were sequenced with private money and kept private for some time; however, for most of these species, public research led to freely-available genome sequences anyway.   

       This whole idea belies a deep misunderhension of (a) the patent system (b) companies and (c) public genome sequences.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 08 2014

       That was the research side of it. And don't get me wrong, I love publicly funded research, and wish more of my tax dollars went into it.   

       But the vast majority of new drug/biologic research, and definitely all or nearly all clinical trials, are privately funded with the intent to make a profit.
MechE, Sep 08 2014

       Yes, fair point.   

       My argument is with [nrm] who seems to assume that companies are out there just patenting arbitrary genes, and that publishing all possible sequences would somehow prevent this. They aren't and it wouldn't.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 08 2014

       No, it's generally patents. The saleable "thing" is, for example, a diagnostic kit based on the detection of a particular sequence variant.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 08 2014

       Right, I'm going to walk away from this, as it was a 2am idea...but..   

       // Therefore simply having published the letter sequence will not prevent it   

       An idea is a patent, no one actually has to turn up at a patent office with a working machine, it just has to be plausible that it would work and be novel. So if somebody says "this combination of ATGC might be useful therapeutically" that seems like a reasonable basis for a patent, if it turns out not be true, it's invalid. Anyway, I'm not talking about patenting, I'm talking about prior art.   

       I did actually bother to read up beforehand, so I know that the human genome is not being patented, however artificial dna can be patented. Yes, the money comes from the use of patent, not from the patent itself, so the breast cancer gene makes money by its use in a diagnostic way.   

       I'll toddle off and see if I can't find someway to do this in less than 1115.68912001624 years. Damn, I have to invent an immortality treatment just to get to finish the project, typical.
not_morrison_rm, Sep 08 2014

       I could ramble on ad nauseum about the topic, but I'll try and be brief. The gene patents are for isolated genes. Isolating the genes means getting a gene segment and putting caps on each end. The patent has to describe a use of the gene, not just the gene itself. Genes are patentable in Australia but not US.
xaviergisz, Sep 09 2014

       //The patent has to describe a use of the gene, not just the gene itself.   

       I did say "this combination of ATGC might be useful therapeutically.." which could then be followed by "for" and a list of every aliment known to mankind, and chuck in a few likely future possibilities like banana flu, penguin elbow and all politicians being unable to lie. With caps on the end, as you suggest. Loner sequence the better, as less likely to turn up in nature.   

       But I agree. Game over for this post. Presumably it'll turn up again in 3098AD when all this is completely irrelevant.
not_morrison_rm, Sep 09 2014

       The use of the gene must be substantial, credible and specific, so an all-ailments disclosure is not adequate (either as a prior art disclosure or as a patent application)
xaviergisz, Sep 09 2014

       So, just a search function added to the website, when a researcher checks the site for scrofula, it comes up with a page that gives all the possible gene combinations and says "xxxxxx could be used in a therapy to treat scrofula", then logs the date and IP address, and the researcher has now created the prior art.   

       That would save me an awful lot of processing power. Of course if they don`t search then maybe they miss another reference which was already there....   

       Anyway, I`m supposed to be not doing this. (goes back to the PHP, drops a <? on own foot, says rude word)
not_morrison_rm, Sep 09 2014

       Again, it doesn't work that way. Such information is not credible.   

       A working model is not required at the patent office, but evidence that the concept can work is.
MechE, Sep 09 2014

       //evidence that the concept can work.   

       Is see...so everytime Apple patent something, they truck all the evidence down to the patent office...   

       Anyway, going off here for a while, I have too spare time now and just feel like I'm monopolising everything. So, you'll have to make facile comments yourselves for a while. TTFN.
not_morrison_rm, Sep 09 2014

       Yes. Try actually reading the disclosure in the patent. It covers the complete operation of the device.
MechE, Sep 09 2014

       [MechE] is right. A patent has to include some fairly detailed supporting evidence that the thing works.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2014


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