90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Patenting Human Genes
Patient samples are loaded into a machine for testing at Myriad Genetics in Salt Lake City. (AP)

Patient samples are loaded into a machine for testing at Myriad Genetics in Salt Lake City. (AP)

Post your comments below

The human genetic code is a kind of miracle. It’s also a recipe for life.

It’s also widely seen as a giant business opportunity. Corporations, drug companies, are rapidly staking claims.

Twenty percent of the human genome has already been patented — sewn up for research and profit in the emerging field of genetic medicine. And it’s fiercely defended.

Gene patenting is controversial, but it’s the law of the land. A lawsuit headed to court right now would change that.

This hour, On Point: Playing God, pushing research, and patenting the human genome.

Guests:

Joining us from Salt Lake City is Tom Harvey, business reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune, where he’s covering the Myriad Genetics case.

Joining us from New York is Chris Hansen, Senior National Staff Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. He is lead attorney in the gene patenting lawsuit that pits the ACLU against the Salt Lake City firm Myriad Genetics and the US Patent and Trademark Office. You can read the ACLU’s complaint here (pdf).

From Washington we’re joined by Hans Sauer, Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, known as BIO. Its membership includes more than 1,200 biotechnology companies and is aligned with Myriad Genetics in defense of gene patenting.

And from New York we’re joined by Wendy Chung, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical genetics at Columbia University and a plaintiff in the ACLU v. Myriad Genetics case.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 26, 2015
Yemeni protesters gather during a demonstration to show their support to Houthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.  (AP)

Yemen in turmoil, a new king in Saudi Arabia. We’ll look at what’s next for the Arabian Peninsula. Plus: the President’s trip to the Indian subcontinent.

Jan 26, 2015
Frederick Daniel Hardy's "Baby's Birthday" (1867) shows a typical Victorian English family at home.  (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Brush your teeth with soot, stay away from water, wear a steel corset. We’ll talk with the author of “How to be a Victorian.” Strange ways from another age.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 23, 2015
People enter the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. The jury selection process in the trial of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes began Tuesday, and is expected to take several weeks to a few months. Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding more than 50 in an Aurora movie theater in 2012 (AP)

The Marathon bombing, the Aurora movie theater shootings, and the challenges of picking an impartial jury.

 
Jan 23, 2015
A Cuban flag and an American flag stand in the press room during the second day of talks between U.S. and Cuban officials, in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP)

President Obama comes out swinging in his State of the Union. High level talks in Cuba. Japanese hostages. “American Sniper” controversy. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
2 Comments
 
Caller To Author Ron Rash: ‘You Cared About People Like Me’
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015

An unexpected caller from South Carolina brings back guest Ron Rash’s years as a community college professor in a movingly real way.

More »
1 Comment