Supreme Court Decision: Genes Cannot Be Patented


The U.S. Supreme court ruled today that “a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent-eligible merely because it has been isolated.”

Myriad, a genetic testing company, holds patents to two genes sequences that indicate a large risk for breast and ovarian cancer. In order for women and men to be tested for these sequences, Myriad charges a large fee.  To be fair, Myriad has spent a lot of money developing these tests, and does offer some funding for patients who cannot afford to be tested.  However a lot of underinsured patients slip through the cracks, and genetic counselors struggle to find funding for some low income women’s tests.

The unanimous Supreme Court ruling will allow researchers more freedom in experimentation and testing. It is not known how this will affect future genetic test development.  It is now possible to sequence the entire genome (whole genome sequencing) and the parts of the genome we know that code for proteins (exome sequencing) . As genetic testing progresses, single gene testing may become outdated anyway.  This does allow whole genome and exome sequencing companies the freedom to counsel on these previously patented genes.

Synthetic versions of the gene material may be patented.

Everyone has a copy of their entire genome in every cell of their body. Personally I feel that no one owns the genome, and am pleased with the Supreme Court decision.




Washington Post:





Food For Your Mood


The American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting took place in San Francisco recently and had a seminar to discuss studies which proved that nutrition has an impact on brain function, specifically in the area of mood, where poor diet may contribute to depression.  What a better place than San Francisco to talk about nutrition and mood disorders? According to 2010 census data, San Francisco has 1 restaurant per 256 households, nearly 50 percent more relative restaurants than the next restaurant-impacted city, and 25 Farmers’ Markets. We also have about 6500 homeless residents; approximately 22% suffer from serious mental illness. Thankfully we have Glide which serves three free, nutritious meals a day, 364 days a year, and St. Anthony’s which provides one free meal 365 days a year. We also have creative thinkers who are trying to get nutritious food to people who really need it, like Bevan Duffy’s idea for food trucks in the Tenderloin. With all the creative chefs and people dedicated to helping their fellow man here, San Francisco should really have this one in the bag.

Chinese proverb: Illness comes in by mouth; ills come out by it.  Mom’s proverb: Eat your veggies!

APA meeting:

Volunteer at Glide:

Volunteer at St. Anthony’s:

Buffy’s food truck idea: