10 January 2009

Hope and Despair

Brian Larnder of Primordial Blog told two stories in a single post. The first is about how Science has helped a couple to screen several in-vitro embryos, for one that is free of BRCA1 to implant back into the woman. The baby was born last week. This additional screen procedure ensures this couple's daughter will not be carrying the cancer gene BRCA1.

Great Science advance which everyone should celebrate!

There are two issues related to this story: one related to greed and possibly another related to superstition.

US company Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah were granted a patent in 2001 which claims the isolated BRCA1 gene, the BRCA1 protein, and possible therapeutic applications and diagnostic kits based on the gene. This will effectively grant an monopoly to Myriad for a human gene. Fortunately, European Patent Office has revoked some claims of that patent. Reason defeats the greed of a company.

Brian predicted that "most Catholics and many Evangelical Christians would find this [gene screening for preventive adult onset of cancer] wrong on so many levels, not least of which is because it takes away from god's authority".

My response is "on what ground can any religious body have to opine on a matter which is totally outside their expertise, any there is any". Let use reason to defeat superstition as well.

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