Gene and Protein Patents Get Ready to Go Head to Head

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Science  07 Dec 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5549, pp. 2082-2083
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5549.2082

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Researchers now believe that there are as many as 2 million proteins in the human body, compared to an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 genes, which is throwing a wrench in the business strategy of many firms that have been furiously locking up patents on key genes involved in disease. Those patents cover what were thought to be the single proteins those genes encode--which means that any other proteins the genes give rise to may be ripe for patent lawyers' pickings. That could set the stage for legal battles for control over the future of genetic medicine.