Would You Want to Know?

Would you want to know if you had a greater risk of developing a certain type of cancer and/or disease?  Or, if you were already diagnosed with cancer would you want to know if you had a greater risk of reoccurence?  Two and a half years ago, after my initial cancer diagnosis, my genetic counselor explained the BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests to me.  Heck yeah I wanted to know.  My test results definitely affected some of the treatment decisions I made.

So, ground breaking news today…The Supreme Court ruled that Myriad, the company responsible for developing the genetic tests, cannot actually patent human genes.  I see this as a victory for cancer patients.  Although I am greatful for the research that Myriad has done on these gene mutations, I do not feel that a company should be able to patent a human gene.  As Justice Clarence Thomas said:

“Myriad did not create anything. To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.”

I know this ruling might open up a can of worms regarding biotechnology research.  And I admit that I am no expert, but I’m curious how others feel regarding this ruling.  Even if you’re not a cancer patient/survivor – how do you feel about companies patenting and profiting from your genetic make-up?  Some might feel that business is business.  In playing devil’s advocate with myself, I wonder if this decision will have any (negative) impact on future R&D funding?

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