Sunday, December 23, 2012

Do they know it’s Christmas?

Myriad is in the middle of a multi-year defense of their BRCA gene patents. It has reached the Supreme Court and in 2013 we’re likely to get a significant ruling on the patentability of human genes. This year 23andMe stepped into the battle for the first time. Instead of patenting a whole gene, 23andMe was granted a patent on a specific SNP, rs10513789, and its use in predicting Parkinson’s risk. This may not have been too much of a shock to experts like Dan Vorhaus (who promptly posted a detailed and informative discussion here), but some customers felt this should have earned 23andMe a spot on Santa’s Naughty List. This prompted 23andMe to clarify that they “will not prevent others from accessing their genetic data or its interpretation”.

That’s probably reason enough to earn a spot here on our top 12 SNPs list, but this SNP wasn’t done making news. Late this year National Geographic began their second Genographic project. This time they’re checking 150,000 markers which are informative of ancestry. Medically relevant SNPs aren’t supposed to be part of the collection, but some SNPs have both medical and genealogical associations. In fact, nearly 500 of the NatGeo SNPs are already in SNPedia, many with medical consequences. To our great surprise, one them turns out to be … yes, you guessed it … 23andMe’s very own rs10513789.

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