Seattle Scientist Says Patenting DNA Was Becoming Obsolete

By Liz Jones

The Seattle-area scientist who led the team that first automated the sequencing of DNA says he’s pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday.  That decision says, in effect, that human genes cannot be patented.

Dr. Leroy Hood is the CEO of Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology. He’s been on the cutting edge of gene sequencing for many years, helping to form more than a dozen biotechnology companies, and winning the National Medal of Science. He says he applauds the ruling, because advances in gene sequencing, mean patenting of individual genes was on its’ way to becoming obsolete anyway.

Hood: “We can’t be bogged down in a myriad of individual gene patents saying, even if you know you have a gene, and you can do something with it, you can’t use it.”

But will the ruling impact Seattle-area start-up biotech firms, looking to make a toehold in the industry?

Hood: “I think it won’t make any difference at all. I don’t know of any companies that really depend on gene patents.”

Hood believes that within the next 10 years or so, everyone will have their individual genomes sequenced, and the information will be used to optimize wellness and minimize disease.

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