In this episode, I interview Law Professor Jorge Contreras about the past, present, and future of biotech companies patenting the human genome.
Jorge L. Contreras received his law degree from Harvard and teaches intellectual property, science policy, antitrust law and genetics law at the University of Utah. His scholarship has appeared in Science, Nature, NYU Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, and other leading journals. He has been featured on NPR, PRI and BBC radio, and his opinions have been cited by news outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Economist, and Washington Post.
He is the author of The Genome Defense: Inside the Epic Legal Battle to Control Who Owns Your DNA.
You can buy the book, find out more about it, see primary documents relating to the legal battle, get further reading suggestions, or participate in discussions at https://genomedefense.org.
04:48 How many naturally occurring human gene patents are currently on the books?
09:04 What does it mean, in a practical sense, for a human gene to be patented?
16:36 When did the patenting of human genes start?
28:29 The global race to find the “breast cancer gene,” first private company to patent a natural human gene
39:13 The legal battle to overturn the patenting of human genes
48:32 The solicitor general's bizarre cDNA vs gDNA compromise wins the day; Big Diagnostics hurt; Big Pharma survives
1:06:51 Do patents help or hurt innovation?
1:10:53 The SARS-CoV-2 genome, the genome of the virus that causes COVID-19, would have been patented, but wasn't because of the 2013 Supreme Court decision; why the vaccines but not the virus can be patented
1:16:30 His role in the Open COVID Pledge
1:23:16 Thinking about the future of widespread or even mandatory prophylactic gene therapy
1:33:31 What if a small number of companies race to engineer us into Microsoft-style or Apple-style operating systems and related ecosystems using prophylactic gene therapy?
1:38:41 Efforts to overturn the 2013 Supreme Court decision: all eyes on Congress for the next couple of years
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