Tissue Rights and Ownership: Is a Cell Line a Research Tool or a Person?

To doctors, the HeLa cell line is an invaluable tool in the treatment of disease; to the Lacks family, it is an invaluable piece of their mother.  The HeLa cell line, the first “immortal” cell line, is the solution to overcoming many impediments in biomedical research, and a key tool in developing certain cures and drugs that have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people.  That collection of cells derives from the Continue Reading →

Court Allows Challenge to Patents on Breast Cancer Genes

Judge Robert Sweet in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has allowed a challenge to two gene patents owned by Myriad Genetics.  The ACLU, on behalf of scientific organizations, researchers, genetic counselors, and individual women, is contesting the validity of gene patents in general, and is challenging the patents on the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes in particular.  The complaint alleges that gene patents are unpatentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C Continue Reading →