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Old 07-20-2013, 10:15 AM   #1
math_guy
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Default Myriad and BRCA

Probably most people in this forum don't know that Myriad is, again, threatening lawsuit against companies for sequencing the BRCA genes (just google it if you cared about reading it...Washington Post is a good place to start). I tried to explain to people that they were going to do this but no one believed me. Look at the stock price of that company...Wall Street is smarter than anyone here..believe me.

It is very simple: the Supreme Court Judges (while probably intelligent) don't understand molecular biology/chemistry. Myriad does understand it. And they have enough money to hire a few smart lawyers who could "force" those judges into a decision which allowed them to still have a patent on the genes.

By "force" I mean that they orchestrated the entire case (once it was initiated) so that they would still basically have the only right to sequence using current technology.

Unfortunately for me and my group we figured out a way to sequence cheaper and more accurately but the pressure was so great inside our group for a large pay-day that I was eventually unable to put off selling our solution.

So...first: I apologize for any groups that used our Auspex Genomics sequencing solution and were hoping to keep using it. We sold out. I guess we're like everyone else

But, I was able to remove the technique for legally sequencing patented genes from the deal. We still own that, at least.

I sent a mass email to all the labs sequencing on the Miseq and the Proton (those labs I know at least). I asked them if they are interested in the protocol for sequencing BRCA legally (for free, of course).

I am doing the same here. I don't want to publish this protocol publicly because we tried that last time and a clever/lazy company tried to file a patent on the info we tried to give everyone for free.

I begged so many labs and companies to support our group on our sequencing project for 3 years but no one was interested because no one believed that if you're not a bio/genetics/bio-molecular something or other and you don't even understand basic undergrad genetics then you're probably not worth even listening to. So we had to do it ourselves. Then when we tried to get labs to use our solution for free, most of them tried to charge us for that. Seriously...they wanted to charge us for giving them our solution for nothing. Then when some labs actually used our solution some of them tried to steal it. Then someone tried to steal all of our research...then we got nervous. Then someone offered us a lot of money so we felt we had no other option so we sold.

My current social experiment is this: since no one cared about our sequencing solution even though we begged them to try it for free, I am wondering what will happen when I try to give away how to by-pass the Myriad patent legally. Will people still ***** at me for trying to be helpful, I wonder?....Probably. Will anyone even care enough to ask us for it (for free of course)? Maybe 3 labs total I am guessing. If I sold the protocol to a big company, how many labs would buy it? Probably a lot more than 3.

We are in the process of starting the patent on our method for bypassing the Myriad patent. We will be first in line in the patent process so that anyone that has our protocol and wants to steal it and patent it will be behind us and won't be able to steal it. But someone in the bio-tech community should be smarter than us and come up with a better way to do it so I am hoping that I don't have to complete the entire patent process.

I just hate that Myriad was able to do this. I hate that our politicians and almost everyone in gov't is being lobbied (is that how you spell that??) to keep low-cost healthcare out of reach. I hate that Myriad was able to control the Supreme court through the Supreme Court's ignorance of this technology.

Am I being stupid because I didn't come from the bio-tech world? I mean...if we could sequence every woman at like the age of 30 or so for the BRCA genes and it only cost about $150 (95% of that cost would shipping the kit back and forth and the labor in removing the DNA from the cell samples...blood or saliva) then our gov't would save an incredible amount of money in Medicare/Medicaid because the 1% or so of women with this gene are gonna cost taxpayers so many billions in treatment because it was caught so late. Plus, even more importantly: your mom is gonna live now.

How many women could have lived if those 2 genes had not been patented and any lab could have offered it for WAY less than $4,000. Most people on this forum have to basically know how cheaply you could have made a test to just target and sequence those 2 genes or the regions you were interested in...Put a ton of people on a Hiseq and the cost per patient would have been maybe $100 back in the day when the Hiseq first came out. Or something like that. That would have made labs offer it on the internet like 23 & Me does and we would have had so many people that lived instead of died (and/or cost everyone a lot of money).

But that didn't happen. Am I the only one that cares about stuff like that?

Last edited by math_guy; 07-20-2013 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:37 AM   #2
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23andMe offers at least a partial report on BRCA1 (185delAG, 5382insC) and BRCA2 (6174delT) and it's only $99.
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:45 AM   #3
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If the technology works and you wanted people to use it without making money off it, if you don't want to patent it, why didn't you just try and publish it like any other scientist?

Last edited by chadn737; 07-20-2013 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by math_guy View Post
Probably most people in this forum don't know that Myriad is, again, threatening lawsuit against companies for sequencing the BRCA genes
Rather an insulting proposition to start with given there's a lot of us who come from 'the biotech world'. Unlike yourself.

Last edited by Bukowski; 07-20-2013 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:09 AM   #5
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Rather an insulting proposition to start with given there's a lot of us who come from 'the biotech world'. Unlike yourself.
I wasn't trying to be insulting. Sorry that you interpreted it that way.
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:14 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
If the technology works and you wanted people to use it without making money off it, if you don't want to patent it, why didn't you just try and publish it like any other scientist?
I tried to explain why. Someone tried to claim it was their research last time we tried to do that.
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:21 AM   #7
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23andMe offers at least a partial report on BRCA1 (185delAG, 5382insC) and BRCA2 (6174delT) and it's only $99.
I know...but it is only a portion. Not the entire gene. It could be $99 right now for both genes. And there could be a better national effort to get everyone tested. And all insurance companies should be offering it to their clients for nothing but a co-pay because it will lower their long-term costs.
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:57 PM   #8
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An awful lot in your tale rings quite false, so I'm wondering which parts are true & correct.

For one thing, if you did publish something to the world then that constitutes prior art; no company can attempt to patent that. Prior art is the most straightforward way to break a patent, so a company is crazy to try to pursue infringement claims when there is obvious prior art.

Myriad must have done an impressive job of "orchestrating" the case by somehow getting Eric Lander to file an amicus brief that took apart their position.

Myriad is claiming all rights to interpret the sequence of the BRCA genes regardless of how that sequence is determined; unless you can point out a clever gap in their arguments, I can't buy your statement that your method goes around their claims.

Whether Myriad's current crop of lawsuits will succeed is anyone's guess; it is hard to disagree that the case went far beyond the training of the Supremes & their clerks and that the decision was about as clear as mud so far as instructing what patent claims might stand in the future.
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:17 AM   #9
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An awful lot in your tale rings quite false, so I'm wondering which parts are true & correct.

For one thing, if you did publish something to the world then that constitutes prior art; no company can attempt to patent that. Prior art is the most straightforward way to break a patent, so a company is crazy to try to pursue infringement claims when there is obvious prior art.

Myriad must have done an impressive job of "orchestrating" the case by somehow getting Eric Lander to file an amicus brief that took apart their position.

Myriad is claiming all rights to interpret the sequence of the BRCA genes regardless of how that sequence is determined; unless you can point out a clever gap in their arguments, I can't buy your statement that your method goes around their claims.

Whether Myriad's current crop of lawsuits will succeed is anyone's guess; it is hard to disagree that the case went far beyond the training of the Supremes & their clerks and that the decision was about as clear as mud so far as instructing what patent claims might stand in the future.
I didn't post a "tale." I just posted my thoughts and I told this forum what I felt. And if you think it is false then why even waste your time here? Is it just to protect other forum users from possibly be reading a false opinion? Either way, I apologize if you think I am being false or somehow trying to do something wrong...you know...by trying to start a conversation or see what other people think about the gene patents. I am just wondering if other people in the sequencing community are also interested in having sequencing of genes made more accessible to everyone now. But the oddest thing, to me at least, is that a lot of people on this forum are irritated with me.

I find that odd. But don't worry: you're not the only people who are irritated by me. So maybe I am just an irritating person but don't realize it personally. Either way, I will try to do better.

For starters: we never published anything on our solution. We sent it to several labs so they could test it.

Secondly: We don't feel comfortable making anything public right now because of how we were treated the first time we worked on something and we are not lawyers so we don't know what is and is not legal. But we do intend to make it public and we do not intend to make any money off of it (probably no one would buy it anyhow). Just..we need to figure out how to do that in way that makes us comfortable.

Thirdly: Those were just my opinions on what Myriad was doing. I am not some magic psychic wizard that can know what everyone at Myriad was up to regarding this case. But I am not a complete idiot and I did read everything I could get my hands on regarding the case (beyond the ruling and all the stuff from the Supreme Court itself). And I did follow Wall Street (like I wrote before: they're smarter than everyone else...again...my opinion..ok?). But regarding this opinion: I think I'm right. I think they did their absolute best to sway the case so that they could still basically own the patent on the BRCA genes.

Fourth: regarding what you wrote about not being able to buy our statement that we figured out a way to get around their claims...I would say that I was never trying to "sell" anything. I just said that we believe we figured out a way to get around it and that we also felt other labs would soon come up with better ways than our's. So...it is OK if you don't buy what I wrote. That is actually super common when it comes to opinions.

Fifth: My post here was, as I wrote, kind of a social experiment for me. I was curious to know how people on the largest technology-based sequencing forum would respond about what I was talking about regarding gene patenting. And what I mostly got was criticism about me or my ideas or what I thought was happening to slow down the pace of sequencing being used today to save lives.

Lastly, unless I have a tech question (which, sadly, I still have a ton of those), I don't feel comfortable posting on this site anymore. I have no idea why so many people here are so tough. I mean...I never asked anyone for anything other than their opinions on ideas that I had. I never told anyone what to do. I never said anything rude to anyone. I actually paid my own personal money to send people my kits for free (umm..I even paid for the overnight shipping myself). I just thought that since this is basically the main forum in the U.S. for sequencing that I would try to participate in it since I find the entire field to be the most fascinating thing ever.

Last edited by math_guy; 07-22-2013 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:32 AM   #10
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I think your main problem is that you sent your stuff to other labs without publishing it. I'm still not clear why you couldn't just test your products yourself and just publish it. If you send magical formulas to other labs without publishing, it doesn't surprise me that some aspiring scientist may try to claim it as their own in some capacity (or alter it a bit and then claim it as their own).

As for the law aspects; this is a great forum for technology but how many of us are really capable of discussing the law at a high level? Very few, if any, I would guess (certainly not me).
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:13 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by math_guy View Post
I didn't post a "tale." I just posted my thoughts and I told this forum what I felt. And if you think it is false then why even waste your time here? Is it just to protect other forum users from possibly be reading a false opinion? Either way, I apologize if you think I am being false or somehow trying to do something wrong...you know...by trying to start a conversation or see what other people think about the gene patents. I am just wondering if other people in the sequencing community are also interested in having sequencing of genes made more accessible to everyone now. But the oddest thing, to me at least, is that a lot of people on this forum are irritated with me.
You caught a bit of my frustration with a lot of people commenting on the Myriad case who haven't bothered to learn the minimal concepts around patent law.

Quote:
For starters: we never published anything on our solution. We sent it to several labs so they could test it.
See, here's the confusion; you previously stated (emphasis mine)
Quote:
am doing the same here. I don't want to publish this protocol publicly because we tried that last time and a clever/lazy company tried to file a patent on the info we tried to give everyone for free.
Can you see how this could be interpreted as saying you published it previously? In any case, if you HAD published it previously it you'd have generated prior art. Perhaps you were just hopelessly naive about how to go about patents -- by emailing it broadly to a group not under legal confidentiality agreements, you successfully tarnished your ability to patent (such an email could be regarded as public disclosure) but in a way that makes it ugly to demonstrate.

Quote:
Secondly: We don't feel comfortable making anything public right now because of how we were treated the first time we worked on something and we are not lawyers so we don't know what is and is not legal.
You should get one now and figure out an actual strategy. If you plan to protect this (or if someone else has rights to it), then you need to be careful - as I mentioned before, you may well have already destroyed the patentability of your protocol.

Quote:
But we do intend to make it public and we do not intend to make any money off of it (probably no one would buy it anyhow). Just..we need to figure out how to do that in way that makes us comfortable.
Again, better check with a lawyer. Many academics (or recent ex-academics) are quite naive about intellectual property rules. I suspect you have fooled yourself in thinking you had an end-run on the Myriad patents. What you think you own personally may be potentially (or clearly) owned in part by others.

Quote:
Thirdly: Those were just my opinions on what Myriad was doing. I am not some magic psychic wizard that can know what everyone at Myriad was up to regarding this case. But I am not a complete idiot and I did read everything I could get my hands on regarding the case (beyond the ruling and all the stuff from the Supreme Court itself). And I did follow Wall Street (like I wrote before: they're smarter than everyone else...again...my opinion..ok?). But regarding this opinion: I think I'm right. I think they did their absolute best to sway the case so that they could still basically own the patent on the BRCA genes.
Uh, yeah. That what lawyers do -- support their own case. Whether they succeeded is another story.

[quote]
Fourth: regarding what you wrote about not being able to buy our statement that we figured out a way to get around their claims...I would say that I was never trying to "sell" anything. I just said that we believe we figured out a way to get around it and that we also felt other labs would soon come up with better ways than our's. So...it is OK if you don't buy what I wrote. That is actually super common when it comes to opinions.</quote>
As mentioned before: if you aren't lawyers, playing with patent law is not a good idea. Perhaps you did find a way (patents were originally intended to never be iron-clad), but in the end only the courts can actually decide what a patent does and does not cover.

Perhaps I should have phrased my critique more gently (substitute "am not convinced by" for "buy"), but you looked for opinions & got them. Be prepared for far worse.
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Old 07-22-2013, 11:52 AM   #12
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As far as I'm concerned this post is spam and should be deleted.
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Old 07-22-2013, 05:55 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=krobison;111285]You caught a bit of my frustration with a lot of people commenting on the Myriad case who haven't bothered to learn the minimal concepts around patent law.



See, here's the confusion; you previously stated (emphasis mine)

Can you see how this could be interpreted as saying you published it previously? In any case, if you HAD published it previously it you'd have generated prior art. Perhaps you were just hopelessly naive about how to go about patents -- by emailing it broadly to a group not under legal confidentiality agreements, you successfully tarnished your ability to patent (such an email could be regarded as public disclosure) but in a way that makes it ugly to demonstrate.


You should get one now and figure out an actual strategy. If you plan to protect this (or if someone else has rights to it), then you need to be careful - as I mentioned before, you may well have already destroyed the patentability of your protocol.


Again, better check with a lawyer. Many academics (or recent ex-academics) are quite naive about intellectual property rules. I suspect you have fooled yourself in thinking you had an end-run on the Myriad patents. What you think you own personally may be potentially (or clearly) owned in part by others.


Uh, yeah. That what lawyers do -- support their own case. Whether they succeeded is another story.

Quote:
Fourth: regarding what you wrote about not being able to buy our statement that we figured out a way to get around their claims...I would say that I was never trying to "sell" anything. I just said that we believe we figured out a way to get around it and that we also felt other labs would soon come up with better ways than our's. So...it is OK if you don't buy what I wrote. That is actually super common when it comes to opinions.</quote>
As mentioned before: if you aren't lawyers, playing with patent law is not a good idea. Perhaps you did find a way (patents were originally intended to never be iron-clad), but in the end only the courts can actually decide what a patent does and does not cover.

Perhaps I should have phrased my critique more gently (substitute "am not convinced by" for "buy"), but you looked for opinions & got them. Be prepared for far worse.
Good advice. Thanks for how you responded. I appreciate that. -Danny
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Old 07-22-2013, 05:59 PM   #14
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As far as I'm concerned this post is spam and should be deleted.
Ok. Sorry. I don't see a button that lets me delete it but if you know how, please let me know and I will. Spam was never my intention.

Apologies again.
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Old 07-22-2013, 06:50 PM   #15
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Myriad is a co-licenser with the Hospital for Sick Children's in Toronto for the BRCA1/BRCA2 patents:

http://cbc.sh/KvJLQx

As far as I'm concerned, Myriad is just trying to scare people. In the end, defensible IP resides in the assay method to detect the mutation, and not the mutation itself.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:09 AM   #16
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As far as I'm concerned this post is spam and should be deleted.
You have a bizarre definition of spam; other than the original poster mentioning his company, what does it have in common with spam?
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:47 AM   #17
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I think your main problem is that you sent your stuff to other labs without publishing it. I'm still not clear why you couldn't just test your products yourself and just publish it. If you send magical formulas to other labs without publishing, it doesn't surprise me that some aspiring scientist may try to claim it as their own in some capacity (or alter it a bit and then claim it as their own).

As for the law aspects; this is a great forum for technology but how many of us are really capable of discussing the law at a high level? Very few, if any, I would guess (certainly not me).
We sent our kit to other labs to test because we didn't really have much money since this was a garage project for us and we had to pay for it ourselves. We just didn't have enough money to keep making all of those sequencing runs. And we were also interested to know what other labs were able to do better than us. Also, we didn't send any code to other labs. Just our kit and the protocol to run it. But all they had to do was read the sequencing data and reverse-engineer some of it. The problem for everyone who did that was that you need the code to decode the entire thing. And the publishing aspect was just an after-thought for us. We stupidly thought that we could make the left-over kits (enough for about 25,000 patients/people) available for free to numerous labs.

As for your comments on the legal aspect, I wasn't trying to focus too much on the high-level legal aspects (though that would have also been fine to talk about). I was just curious what other people on this forum felt about that case, and more importantly, about how gene patenting and the lack of understanding in our gov't regarding technology (in this case, sequencing) will slow us down in our efforts to help people who are sick. But I get what you mean...sometimes I feel that you do need a law degree to understand even a simple case.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:13 AM   #18
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Myriad is a co-licenser with the Hospital for Sick Children's in Toronto for the BRCA1/BRCA2 patents:

http://cbc.sh/KvJLQx

As far as I'm concerned, Myriad is just trying to scare people. In the end, defensible IP resides in the assay method to detect the mutation, and not the mutation itself.
Yeah, this is basically what I feel as well. I am pretty sure that any lab could sequence and provide the data to pretty much anyone and Myriad would just wait until that number got too large for them. First: they would send threatening letters. Then when the number grows enough to possibly threaten a tiny percentage of their business they would file a suit against all those labs. Since those labs would not have the legal resources to fight it they would just stop.

I think that is kinda what happened the first time. But then someone challenged them and it went all the way.

What I don't want to happen is that Myriad finds a way to still be able to patent those genes when they are almost done with their patent to begin with. Because if they were able to protect their ability to patent genes then other companies and sleazy start-ups will try to do the same with new genes or regions of the genome.

Basically, this is the real issue (to me, at least): if you spend time and money to determine that a set of genes are definitively related to a disease (or whatever) then should you be able to make money off of that discovery? And should the legal system keep other companies from trying to provide that data to people who could benefit health-wise from it?

I think it is a tough set of questions. Because I feel that capitalism is the best way to move forward. But I also feel that our genome is our's. And if I can sequence my entire genome, then find out (in some way...through the grapevine or the internet...or from wherever) that such-and-such gene could cause cancer for me then I shouldn't be sued for looking at my genome to see if I have it.

If we rule that,regardless, nothing in your personal genome can be patented then will it slow down the pace of research? Is it just the price we are gonna have to pay right now to get the entire genome thoroughly understood? Maybe it is worth it for some people to die now so that WAY more can live in the future?
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