While debate continues as to whether genetic sequences, which many argue represent natural phenomena rather than inventions, should be subject to standard patent protections, issuance of patents that claim DNA sequences remains common practice. In an attempt to insulate researchers from patent claims that could hinder scientific progress, many countries have provided general exemptions for scientific research. However, there is no international consensus about the extent of required protections, and even existing exemptions vary widely in clarity and are limited in practical application. We believe that gene patents raise several unique issues that are inadequately handled by the current research exemptions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO-Flanders), the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Union (Eurogentest) and the Vancraesbeeck Fund. Special thanks go to P. Vancraesbeeck for interesting discussions.
Research for this article was supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Office of Science, US Department of Energy, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program. The authors are grateful to L. Andrews for her expertise and encouragement.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.