Who Owns Your Genes? The Gene Patent Quiz

Staff

The four general purposes for patenting a gene are:

Composition of matter patents are at the heart of the legal debate over gene patents.

The first gene patent was granted in:

The first gene patent was issued in 1982 to the University of California for a hormone involved with breast development in pregnant women.

Approximately how many patents are there on human genes?

There are currently more than 3,000 patents on human genes, and that number is growing all the time!

Approximately how many patents are there that involve genetic material?

There are more than 47,000 patents involving genetic material. This includes patents on not only individual genes, but also on strands of genes and processes and equipment used to research and isolate them.

What was the first recombinant genetic product to get a patent?

Some people may treat Diet Coke like it's vital to their survival, but insulin was the first recombinant genetic product to be granted a patent. Human growth hormone (HGH) came shortly after.

To date, how many protein-coding genes have been identified by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium?

The consortium was responsible for mapping the human genome and has identified nearly 20,000 different protein-coding genes.

Approximately what percent of human genes are patented?

Less than half of human genes are associated with issued patents. So, there's still plenty of "you" left untouched!

Roughly how many gene patent applications have been filed?

After the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, the number of gene patent applications skyrocketed, and more than 1 million have been filed to date.

What three conditions must exist for something to receive a patent? It must be:

Things outside of weather conditions can certainly be patented, and plenty of offensive and lethal things are also protected by patent law. The third required condition -- describability -- is sometimes called the enablement criterion, because it enables someone other than the patent holder to make or use the invention.

How long does a patent protect an invention?

For 20 years after a patent is issued, no one other than the holder can make or use the item under patent without permission from, and usually payment to, the patent holder.

The most widely publicized gene patent controversy involved genes that predicted the risk of what?

The genes involved are known as RCA1 and BRCA2, and Myriad Genetics has developed a test that determines if a woman has a deformation of these genes that may indicate an increased risk of developing breast or ovarian cancers.

Which celebrity became involved in gene patent legislation around 2007?

Crichton's 2006 novel, "Next," was a bio-thriller focusing on the world of genetic research.

The Plant Patent Act, which allowed products of nature to be patented for the first time, was issued in which year?

Once it was enacted in 1930, the Plant Patent Act allowed plant breeders to patent new types of plant life.

What famous court case set the stage for patenting living organisms?

In Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a strain of bacteria developed in the lab could, in fact, receive a patent.

The Human Genome Project began in what year?

The project got under way in the late 1980s, and it was completed two years ahead of schedule in 2003.

What percentage of human DNA creates proteins that function as genes?

Though less than 2 percent of our DNA fits this description, the great majority of gene patents focus only on the protein-producing sections of genetic material.

How much did the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spend on genetics research from 2003 to 2007?

While $14 billion is a lot of cash, there's the possibility that the cost of genetics research could reach into the trillions in the future.

Approximately how many genes are there in one human chromosome?

One chromosome can carry about 1,000 genes.

If all the DNA in your cells was stretched out, it would go to the moon and back about how many times?

All that DNA could pave the theoretical way for 1 million trips to Earth's biggest satellite.

About how many DNA molecules are found in the complete human genome?

The genome is the complete set of genetic material in an organism, and it contains more than 65 million DNA molecules.

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About This Quiz

You inherited your genes from your parents, and they’re the building blocks of who you are. So how could someone patent them? Test your knowledge in our gene patent quiz.

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