gene patents

Documenting the History of Biotech and its Relevance: Mark Jones, Life Sciences Foundation

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Mark Jones, Director of Research, Life Sciences Foundation Bio and Contact Info

Listen (7:14) Why is recording biotech history important?

Listen (11:48) Biotech history, such as that of recombinant DNA, can shed light on current ethical debates

Listen (6:04) A history of tech transfers

Listen (4:12) Can history provide insight to current gene patent case?

Biotech has been around for a while now. Some of the original pioneers of the field are getting along in years or have passed. To record and preserve the history of biotech, the Life Sciences Foundation has been established. Their website is becoming a rich, one stop source, to trace back the big achievements of the last 40-50 years with lots of videos and articles on the pioneers and major players in our field. In addition to the website, the foundation puts out a regular magazine and sponsors events such as the talk and reception at UCSF recently entitled the Centaur and the Whale and the emergence of biotech, an event devoted to remembering two early biotech companies, Chiron and Cetus.

Mark Jones is the director of research at the Life Sciences Foundation and has recently been going around the country taking down oral histories. In today's show he talks about what the history of the industry can tell us about issues of today.

Moving to an "Outcomes" World with Steve Burrill

Podcast brought to you by: BioConference Live's annual Clinical Diagnostics Conference, May 29-31


Steve Burrill, CEO, Burrill and Co Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:38) Burrill and Buck Conference on Aging

Listen (7:32) Moving to a world in healthcare where we will pay for outcomes

Listen (6:23) Has it not always been about values?

Listen (4:24) Can Pharma create value outside of providing drugs?

Listen (1:08) Thoughts on gene patent case

"This is not your grandfather’s Buick anymore. If you grew up in biotech any time prior to the last five years, you need to reexamine your assumptions about the world of reimbursement." Ron Cohen, CEO, Acorda

This quote is taken from the yearly state of the industry book put out by Burrill and Company. CEO, Steve Burrill joins us today to discuss the newly published book this year subtitled, "Capturing Value." Cohen's quote summarizes the message in the book in which Burrill and his team argue persuasively that things in healthcare are not the way they used to be, that we are moving from a "cost-based" to a "value-based" system. Steve discusses this paradigm shift in today's show and explains why we need new assumptions in the world of pharma and biotech.

Early in the interview, Steve previews the first Burrill and Buck Aging Conference coming up May 20-21 in Novato California. The interview ends with Burrill's thoughts on the Myriad gene patent case.

Court of Appeals Upholds Myriad Gene Patents: Dan Vorhaus and Kevin Noonan

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Dan Vorhaus, JD, Editor,, Bio and Contact Info

Listen (17:14) Interview with Dan Vorhaus

Listen (5:43) Myriad Update 1: Details of the decision

Listen (2:46) Myriad Update 2: Judges disagree on gene patent issue

Listen (0:51) Myriad Update 3: Justice Lourie: Cleavage fundamentally alters the DNA

Listen (3:17) Myriad Update 4: Justice Moore: It takes congress or the Supreme Court

Listen (1:45 Myriad Update 5: Justice Bryson's dissent

Listen (0;38) Myriad Update 6: Most likely to be repealed

Listen (0:38) Myriad Update 7: Patents to expire soon

Listen (0:58) Myriad Update 8: What about whole genome sequencing

Kevin Noonan, Ph D, Editor,, Bio and Contact Info

Listen (11:11) Interview with Kevin Noonan

Listen (6:11) Myriad Update 9: Claims all say 'isolated' DNA

Listen (4:03) Myriad Update 10: Won't be settled until Supreme Court weighs in

Our show today is a follow-up on an earlier show about biotechnology and patent law. Last Friday, July 29th, a the Federal Circuit appeals court reversed a lower court’s ruling and upheld the right of Myriad Genetics to patent the BRCA genes. The BRCA1 and 2 genes account for most inherited forms of breast and ovarian cancers. Women who test positive using Myriad's gene test, have an 82 percent higher risk of breast cancer and a 44 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer. The gene patent issue was decided 2 to 1. The court ruled unanimously that Myriad’s method for screening potential therapies was patentable but that their method for analyzing DNA sequences did not involve sufficient transformation, and thus could not be patented.

It is anticipated that the case will be further appealed, either to the full bench of appeals or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read Dan Vorhaus' analysis over at

Read an in-depth analysis of Judge Moore's decision written by Kevin Noonan at

Biotechnology and Patent Law: Looking at Stanford, Myriad, and Patent Reform Legislation


Dan Vorhaus, JD, Editor, Genomics Law Report Bio and Contact Info John Conley, PhD,, UNC, Chapel Hill Bio and Contact Info

Listen (23:15) Dan V & John C - Myriad Case

Listen (03:29) Dan V & John C - Stanford v Roche

Listen (03:03) Dan V & John C - America Invents Act

Kevin Noonan, PhD, Bio and Contact Info

Listen (03:11) Kevin N - PatentDocs Blog

Listen (09:40) Kevin N - Myriad Case

Listen (12:55) Kevin N - Patent Reform

Listen (05:46) Kevin N - Stanford v Roche

On June 6, the Supreme Court handed down a decision on Stanford v. Roche. The case is about who owned the patent for a PCR-based HIV detection kit. Dr. Mark Holodniy joined Stanford as a research fellow, and when he did, he signed a Patent Agreement stating that he will assign the right to inventions resulting from his employment at Stanford. In 88, Cetus began to collaborate with scientists at Stanford to test their HIV technology. Because Holodniy was unfamiliar with PCR, his supervisor arranged for him to conduct research at Cetus. The condition for this would be that Holodniy sign a Visitor’s Confidentiality Agreement which stated that he did presently assign to Cetus any right to any invention made as a consequence of his access to Cetus. So which agreement would hold? Stanford sued Roche (who bought out Cetus) for infringing. The Supreme Court, however, decided against Stanford upholding the agreement with Roche/Cetus as the valid one. The case has been somewhat complicated by a piece of legislation called the Baye-Dole Act which gives universities intellectual property control of their inventions that result from federally funded projects.

Today we have two interviews--the first with Dan Vorhaus and John Conley, the second with Kevin Noonan--to discuss the Stanford Roche decision as well as the ongoing Myriad Genetics which deals with the patentability of genes. We also discuss patent reform legislation before congress called the America Invents Act.

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