Issues Magazine

Articles about genetics

For Myriad Genetics, the gene patent fight isn't over yet

By Dianne Nicol

Myriad Genetics is continuing to defend its patents for genes involved in breast cancer even though the US Supreme Court rules they were invalid.

Whether sequences of genetic material can be patented has been a matter of heated debate for the past decade or more.

In many countries, patents have been granted for isolated gene sequences, methods of isolating sequences, methods of using sequences for diagnosing genetic diseases, and a whole range of other gene-related products and methods.

Born this way? An evolutionary view of 'gay genes'

By Jenny Graves

New research supports this claim that particular genes influence sexuality.

The claim that homosexual men share a “gay gene” created a furore in the 1990s. But new research two decades on supports this claim – and adds another candidate gene.

To an evolutionary geneticist, the idea that a person’s genetic makeup affects their mating preference is unsurprising. We see it in the animal world all the time. There are probably many genes that affect human sexual orientation.

Yeast 2.0: How to Build a Genome

By Ian T. Paulsen and Isak S. Pretorius

Reprogramming the software of life takes genomics and bioengineering into a new dimension, and it incites both fascination and concern.

Synthetic biology entails the design and engineering of biologically based parts, novel devices and systems as well as the redesign of existing natural biological systems (see box). Researchers in this emerging science aim to predictably bioengineer organisms for beneficial applications – from the production of new antibiotics, renewable energy and biodegradable pesticides to purifying contaminated water. This so-called genome engineering will pose not only scientific challenges to lab researchers but also ethical and policy challenges to society at large.