Patents on human genes?! What were they thinking?!

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Last night when driving from A to B, I listened to a TED talk by Tania Simoncelli. She and her colleagues at the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union) invested eight years of their life preparing a case for the highest courts of justice in the United States, asking them if we should be able to patent a human gene?

At the time when Tania started the preparation, back in 2005, many companies had already patented isolated human genes. She felt this undesirable, as it limited a person’s option to have his own genetical material tested or researched and thus getting proper medical care, for example in case of illness. She discovered that as a result of the previous judicial error that had allowed for these patents, many people got a faulty diagnose of their disease, as the patent owner was able to block further development of tests involving a certain isolated gene.

This talk left me startled once again on the things that certain people can come up with. Honestly, call me naive, but I cannot grasp the idea of limiting someone’s possibilities to live, knowingly and willingly. I applaud the ACLU’s initiative and perseverance on this topic, in a context where everybody deemed this a lost case. It will benefit all of us.

Watch this talk through the TED website or YouTube.

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