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Patent on HIV Receptor Provokes an Outcry

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Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1375-1377
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1375

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Last week, Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGS) of Rockville, Maryland, won a U.S. patent on a human gene that plays a key role in HIV infection. The gene codes for a cell surface receptor called CCR5 that HIV uses to gain entry to a cell. But academic scientists who had also chased this gene and, unlike HGS, published scientific papers showing that HIV uses the receptor were dumbfounded--especially because HGS did not know of the AIDS connection when it filed its patent.