LOS ANGELES TIMES

Supreme Court and DNA: No one can own a gene

For the past 60 years, we have been learning a new language. Ever since the double-helix structure of DNA was uncovered in 1953, the vocabulary of genetics has been creeping into our lives, becoming over time a full and rich lexicon. Last week's Supreme Court ruling against patents for two genes implicated in cancer is a step toward ensuring that this language remains one of science and humanity rather than profit.

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Don't cut lifesaving dollars

It would be fair to say that Patient 5 owes his life to medical research. Also known as David Aponte, he was the headlining success story from a recent clinical trial at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The trial tested a new approach — in which a portion of the immune system is genetically altered and then reintroduced to the body — for treating an otherwise fatal leukemia.

But when we celebrate the remarkable achievement made possible by the doctors behind the experimental treatment and the patients who volunteered themselves for research, there are two other guests of honor to include at the party: years and years of basic science, and the public dollars that funded them. Sadly, those guests are finding it increasingly tough to get invitations.

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