gene ownership bio chemistry paper 1


  • Discuss how the primary structure of nucleic acids is the order of bases in the polynucleotide sequence, and the secondary structure is the three-dimensional conformation of the backbone.
  • Discuss the monomers of nucleic acids are nucleotides.
  • Discuss how the bases are bonded to the sugars, forming nucleosides.
  • Summarize how nucleosides are linked by ester bonds to phosphoric acid to formthe phosphodiester backbone.
  • Specific proteins called single-strand binding proteins bind to the single-strandedregions and protect them from nucleases.
  • Spontaneous mutation of bases and insertion of the wrong nucleotide would normally lead to an error every 10^4 to 10^5.


  • Step 1: Read the article found in section 9A: Biochemical Connections: Law in your digital book.
    Using the Concorde’s Online Library, your digital material, and other scholarly websites, discuss the following:
  • What are your feelings regarding the article?
  • Describe, in detail, what the following statement means, “What can be patentedis purified DNA containing the sequence of the gene and techniques that allowthe study of the genes.”
  • How do you see the patenting of genes/DNA impacting science and medicine over the next 30 years?
  • Do you believe this trend is ethical? Why/why not?
  • Step 2: Compile your thoughts & research and write a 3-5 page paper addressing the topics and questions above.
  • Step 3: Once complete, save your file and submit.

• You are required to have at least two outside resources, at the scholarly level. Wikipedia is not acceptable.

The use of outside resources is required and all papers must be cited and written in APA format.

9A: Biochemical Connections: Law Article

Who Owns Your Genes?
“There is a gene in your body’s cells that plays a key role in early spinal cord development. It belongs to Harvard University. Incyte Corporation, based in Wilmington, Del., has patented the gene for a receptor for histamine, the compound released by cells during the hay fever season. About half of all the genes known to be involved in cancer are patented.” Following the explosion in information that came from the Human Genome Project (see Biochemical Connections 9B), commercial firms, universities, and even government agencies began to look for patents on genes, which began a long philosophical and legal battle that continues to this day. Human cells have about genes, which are the blueprint for the trillion cells in our body. About percent of the human genome has been patented. As of 2006, Incyte Corporation owned about percent of all known human genes.


So the question that comes to mind is, “how can a company patent a biological entity?” Well, clearly they cannot actually patent you or your genes, at least not the ones you carry around. What can be patented is purified DNA containing the sequence of the gene and techniques that allow the study of the genes. The idea of patenting information began with a landmark case in 1972 when Ananda M. Chakrabarty, a General Electric engineer, filed for a patent on a strain of Pseudomonas bacteria that could break down oil slicks more efficiently. He experimented with the bacteria, getting them to take up DNA from plasmids that conferred the clean-up ability. The patent office rejected the patent on the grounds that products of nature and live organisms cannot be patented. However, the battle was not over, and in 1980 the Supreme Court heard the appeal in the same year that the techniques of molecular biology and recombinant DNA technology really began to take off. Chief Justice Warren Burger declared arguments against patenting life irrelevant by stating, “anything under the sun that is made by man” could be patented. The ruling was close, only in favor of Chakrabarty, and the ramifications continue to this day. Patents have been issued for gene sequences, whole organisms such as specific bacteria, and cell types like stem cells. A patent on a clone gene or the protein it produces gives the owner exclusivity in marketing the protein, such as insulin or erythropoietin. As of 2005, the largest holder of scientific patents was the University of California, with more than patents. The U.S. government was second with , and the first commercial enterprise on the list, Sanofi Aventis, came in third at (Figure 9.7).