Bio-Technology Development and Patents
Concerns over potential impediments to biochemical patenting derive from the significance of biotechnology to the future of medicine. From a medical perspective, developments in genetics could hardly be more consequential. (10) The legal revolution referenced above began with a scientific breakthrough--the development in 1972 of recombinant DNA technology. This invention spawned further advancements in genetic research, including the discovery in 1983 of a generally applicable method for cloning genes for polypeptides where the amino acid, DNA, and mRNA sequences were not completely known; the availability beginning in 1986 of computer controlled sequencing machines for the DNA base pairs that form genes; and the development of polymerase chain reaction technology the same year.
These advancements have powerfully boosted the ability of scientists to locate and sequence genes. As the president of one major biotechnology company noted, a few decades ago it might have taken ten years to find a particular gene, but, with modern gene maps, a gene can now often be found with a fifteen second computer search. Sequencing has also become far less laborious. The ability of scientists to rapidly sequence DNA has resulted in an explosion of discoveries of DNA sequences--both meaningful and meaningless scientifically--that, in turn, has caused a deluge of patent applications claiming DNA sequences and the proteins and other biochemicals for which these sequences code.
About the Author
Hsiao-Chieh Wu was born in Taiwan, studied in the United States, and works in Taiwan. He is a graduate of the National Tsing Hua University and hold an MBA from the University of Wisconsin. He has longstanding experience in business development consulting, such as crisis management, and decision under uncertainty. He holds several patents in Asia, and does research on the impacts on bio-technology development. Mr. Wu teaches at the Jin-Wen Institute of Technology and holds research projects for the Taiwan government.