News & CommentEconomics

Snipping Away at Genome Patenting

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Science  19 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5333, pp. 1752-1753
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5333.1752

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Genetic markers called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs or "snips") are becoming a hot commercial property. They offer unique and efficient signposts that can be used by researchers scanning an entire genome for significant mutations, and they are piling up in growing numbers as public and private institutions churn out more and more human DNA sequence data. But some companies--and, according to rumors, some research groups--are staking proprietary claims on SNPs. Last week, a group of researchers urged the National Institutes of Health to undermine such claims by creating a public repository of SNPs. They got a sympathetic response from Human Genome Project chief Francis Collins.