Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Who Owns The Clones?

More US patents on human DNA

7th March 2000

A US biotechnology company has patented a human gene considered to play a key role in HIV infection.

Human Genome Sciences successfully applied to patent the DNA sequence which produces a cell wall receptor called CCR5. This receptor is the primary mechanism by which the HIV virus gets into human cells and plays a key role in human immune systems. Human Genome Sciences currently hold 112 patents for human DNA codes issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office and has already signed a deal with Praecis Pharmaceuticals to develop drugs therapies for its newly patented CCR5 receptor.

This latest attempt to commercially harness medical discoveries which are fundamental to human health continues a deeply disturbing trend sweeping through the US. In another American laboratory, the Human Genome Project, referred to as Celera, is currently competing with a joint UK/German/Japanese research team operating out of a UK lab in Cambridge. But whilst the UK based initiative is publishing its medical discoveries as soon as they are made, the US project is keeping its work secret in order to cash in on the discovery via a commercial patent. As it stands, the US Celera is using information published on the web by the UK based group and then keeping its own findings under wraps.