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Health Science - Genetics of Cancer

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20. Look up U.S. Patent 5654155 at www.uspto.gov, which covers use of the BRCA1 gene's DNA sequence. Discuss what the patent covers and whether you think companies should be permitted to patent gene sequences.
21. Do Web research or consult Chapter 18 in the textbook to name a gene, other than BRCA1, that increases risk of developing breast cancer when mutant. What is the process or mechanism that the mutation disrupts?
22. Discuss how alternate splicing can complicate the study of mutations in the BRCA1 gene.
23. Distinguish between a hereditary germline cancer, such as those caused by BRCA1 mutations, and cancers that result from two somatic mutations in the same gene in the same cell.

24. Explain how mutations in the same gene can cause different types of cancer.

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20. Look up U.S. Patent 5654155 at www.uspto.gov, which covers use of the BRCA1 gene's DNA sequence. Discuss what the patent covers and whether you think companies should be permitted to patent gene sequences.

To obtain a patent, an invention must be new, useful, and nonobvious. The essence of a patent is delineated in the patent claims. In this case, claims address a consensus sequence for the BRCA1 gene along with seven pairs of polymorphisms considered normal. Further claims describe methods to identify gene sequences that are or are not associated with breast or ovarian cancer based on differences between the consensus sequence and that of the test individual. The purpose is to determine whether an individual has increased susceptibility to either of these cancers. Tumors may also be tested to determine whether they carry a mutation in this tumor suppressor gene.
Whether or not companies should be able to patent gene sequences is a complicated question and will be looked at very differently by patients, physicians, and the corporations that market testing aids for genetic variants associated with cancer. To address the above question, you might want to consider:

 Companies argue that their investment in discovery and development of an invention for the marketplace should be protected. A patent essentially gives a company a monopoly on the invention for a specific period of time. During this period, no one else may use, market, or sell a product dependent upon the invention without infringing the patent. Note that a patent is issued in ...

Solution Summary

This responses addresses questions regarding patenting of naturally occurring DNA sequences and the roles of mutation (genetic variants) in cancer formation.

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