Don’t Patent Me!

Examples of notable mutations that can occur i...
Examples of notable mutations that can occur in humans. References for the image are found in Wikimedia Commons page at: . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I should have written about this over a week ago, but I’ve been so busy and, you know, got engaged and whatnot! Anyway, a little over a week ago the Supreme Court made a vote that genes cannot be patented. Why is this a big deal to me you ask? Well, because I have a gene mutation in the BRCA2 gene. I was lucky enough to have decent insurance when I was tested and we knew exactly which gene to look at since we knew my mom (who had breast cancer at the time) had the BRCA2 mutation as well. In the case Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Myriad Genetics was trying to patent the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which meant they were the only company who could do the testing for the gene mutations, making it expensive and impossible to get a second opinion on the test. This meant that many women who had a history of breast or ovarian cancer in their family were unable to be tested for the gene mutation and therefore unable to make fully informed decisions that could possibly save their lives. But now the Supreme Court has voted that companies are not allowed to patent genes, citing that Myriad found the mutation, which is an amazing advancement in cancer research, but that the company cannot own something that was created in nature. Along with Angelina Jolie’s announcement of being BRCA1 positive and having had a preventative double mastectomy several weeks ago, this is huge news in my community of what are called “previvors,” or people who are fighting, researching, learning, and doing whatever possible to help prevent themselves from getting cancer, even with the extremely high risk associated with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.  We are so glad that more people are learning about this gene mutation, and that hopefully more people will be able to afford to be tested and become proactive in the fight against cancer. Our hopes are, as well, that maybe more gene mutations such as this one will be found to have links to other cancers, so that possibly more people can fight and survive!

For more information please visit the FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) site at http://www.facingourrisk.org/

BRCA1-Gene located on chromosome 17. English v...