Updated Dec. 22, 2013: adds reference to Myriad’s action on DNA data as company trade secrets
As the author of a rabble-rousing call to action, with a heavy dose of humor, on managing medical care called Cancer for Christmas, I have some street cred on both cancer and on dealing with tough personal health conversations over a Christmas standing rib roast dinner.
My hair has been on fire since I heard that Myriad Genetics had patented genes, back in the previous millennium. First, how in the pluperfect f^ck is a naturally-occurring part of the human body – microscopic or not – patentable?? Second, why is a commercial enterprise allowed to dictate scientific research at a university? If they’re funding it … maybe. If they’re trying to prevent it from moving forward? What. The. F^CK? I expect crass commercialism at Walmart. When it comes to cancer research, a primary profiteering motive should be a capital offense. Yep, off with their heads, baby.
It recently came to my attention, thanks to my buddy BraveBosom‘s tip-off …
— Brave Bosom (@BraveBosom) December 19, 2013
… that the trolls at Myriad Genetics are up to newer, stinkier tricks: “helping” us make cancer a holiday centerpiece!
Hey, Myriad, here’s a tip: WE DON’T TRUST YOU. You’re trolls. Support from you? I’d sooner eat dinner with Hannibal Lecter.
If you haven’t heard of Myriad Genetics, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:
- Founded in Salt Lake City in 1992 by, among other names, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Walter Gilbert
- In 1997, Myriad is granted a patent on BRCA1 (one of two genes that indicate high risk of breast and ovarian cancer)
- In 1998, Myriad is granted a patent on BRCA2 (2nd of two breast cancer risk genes)
- BRCAnalysis, the company’s genetic test for breast cancer risk, costs $4,000 (you can get an entire genomic sequence for less than that – the Myriad test only looks at two genes!)
- Myriad hits research institutions with cease and desist letters to prevent their research into BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes as patent infringement (it seems they think your genes are their intellectual property)
- The Association for Molecular Pathology files suit, challenging Myriad’s BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents
- June 13, 2013: the Supreme Court rules against Myriad, saying that human genes are not patentable
- Myriad starts to press legal action against other genetics companies, alleging trade secrets infringement (pre-SupCo-decision story here, post-decision story here)
With me so far? OK.
Yo, MySupport360 – your “support” would cost me how much, exactly? My liver, with some fava beans? The sticker price of an Escalade? The entire contents of my 401(k)? Given your track record for bottom-lining other people’s health risks, why the French-pressed f^ck should we trust you on anything, much less guiding health-related conversations with our families?
Your invitation to “talk about genetic testing” with our families over Christmas dinner … hell, we’d HAVE to serve up a bottomless flagon of nice Chianti to get through it, given that the “talk” (following your paradigm) would wind up with us wanting to clap a restraint mask on the faces of everyone behind MySupport360. ‘Cause sure as shootin’ you’d be picking our pockets all the way.
How much more powerful it would be if you followed the rising call for open science, backed by notable minds from 2012 ISEF Prize winner Jack Andraka to 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman.
So get off your Scrooge train for Christmas, will ya? You low-down, dirty, rotten trolls.