New guidelines on gene patents published

22 Apr 2008 | News
The European Society of Human Genetics wants to ban the patenting of genes and DNA sequences but allow patents on genetic tests.

After two-and-a-half years of deliberation, the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) has concluded that the way forward on genetic testing is to ban the patenting of genes and DNA sequences but allow patents to be granted on the tests themselves.

The guidelines, published today, are due to be presented to the European Parliament, the European Patent Office and the European Commission in a bid to stimulate their incorporation into patent law.

Professor Gert Matthijs of the Catholic University of Leuven, who chaired the investigation, believes a major breakthrough has been made. “ESHG has a well respected history of researching and issuing recommendations on different aspects of genetic testing. As soon as the first monopolies on genetic tests started appearing, we realised patenting had become a major issue.”

“This new proposal aims to reconcile what until now have appeared to be conflicting interests of patent owners, commercial companies, health authorities, policy makers, and geneticists, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that patients retain access to the latest technological advances,” said Matthijs.

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