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Patenting human genetic material: refocusing the debate


The biotechnology industry has become firmly established over the past twenty years and gene patents have played an important part in this phenomenon. However, concerns have been raised over the patentability of human genetic material, through public protests and international statements, but to little effect. Here we discuss some of these concerns, the patent authorities' response to them, and ways in which to address these issues and to move the debate forward using current legal structures.

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American College of Medical Genetics

Unesco's 1997 Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights

European Patent Office

United States Patent Office

Canadian Patent Office

Japanese Patent Office

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European Patent Convention

Incyte Pharmaceuticals

United States Supreme court case of Diamond versus Chakrabarty

United States Patent Office's recent interim guidelines

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Caulfield, T., Gold, E. & Cho, M. Patenting human genetic material: refocusing the debate. Nat Rev Genet 1, 227–231 (2000).

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