Saturday, June 23, 2007

Patents and cyborg cells

news @ nature.com--The patent threat to designer biology--Behind scare stories of building synthetic life lies the issue of who owns the biological parts.: A new patent application has been filed by Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, on "the world's first-ever human-made species," a bacterium created with synthetic DNA.

The patent claims there are "381 essential genes needed to make an organism. The genes are found in Mycoplasma genitalium, a naturally slimmed-down microbe that has just 485 genes that encode proteins.

"... If the patent were granted, anyone wanting to design an organism from these genes would need to apply for a license. "These monopoly claims signal the start of a high-stakes commercial race to synthesize and privatize synthetic life forms," claimed ETC's Jim Thomas. 'Will Venter's company become the "Microbesoft" of synthetic biology?'"

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