BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents struck down

For years private companies have been putting patents on your genes. In fact, roughly 1/5 of human genes has been patented. This potentially has huge ramifications as it can restrict research abilities to one company or at least make others wary of future pursuits. Fortunately, a federal judge has struck down much of this practice.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet challenging whether anyone can hold patents on human genes was expected to have broad implications for the biotechnology industry and genetics-based medical research.

Sweet said he invalidated the patents because DNA’s existence in an isolated form does not alter the fundamental quality of DNA as it exists in the body nor the information it encodes.

He rejected arguments that it was acceptable to grant patents on DNA sequences as long as they are claimed in the form of “isolated DNA.”

The specific genes this primarily affects are the BCRA1 and BRCA2 genes, both tumor suppressors. (That means damage to these genes can quickly lead to cancer.) These are highly important areas of research which women cannot afford to have restricted to one company. The ruling will surely be appealed, but it is encouraging to see the case go in this direction.

We hate you so much we won’t even let you dance with your friends

Constance McMillen is a gay high school student at Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi. She was going to go to her prom with her girlfriend, but the school objected. The ACLU quickly got involved.

The district announced Wednesday it wouldn’t host the April 2 prom. The decision came after the American Civil Liberties Union demanded that officials change a policy banning same-sex prom dates because it violated students’ rights. And the ACLU said the district not letting McMillen wear a tuxedo violated her free expression rights.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oxford to force the school district to sponsor the prom and allow McMillen to bring whom she chooses and wear what she wants.

This is an astounding level of bigotry. Rather than allow a student to go to a prom with her date of the same sex, the school district actually believes it is better to ruin everyone’s biggest senior moment next to graduation.

Of course, they aren’t going to take the blame.

A school board statement said it wouldn’t host the event in Fulton, “due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events” but never mentioned McMillen or her girlfriend, who also is a student at the school.

There is often a tremendous amount of arrogance floating around the egos of those who have petty control over others, but this really takes the cake. [D]istractions to the educational process? What are these people on? Did they consume large quantities of alcohol before writing this? Was it all hard stuff?

The fact is – and this is the silver lining – the district recognizes that they will lose any lawsuit against them which challenges a ban on same sex dating. They do not have the right to ban any such thing. Upon recognition of this obvious fact, they have sought to maintain getting their childish little way by dirty means: it’s high school; everyone knows what is happening with everyone else. When they tried to blame the victim for their ineptitude and lack of concern for equality, they knew exactly what they were doing.

…the 18-year-old lesbian high school senior reluctantly returned to campus to some unfriendly looks, she said.

“Somebody said, ‘Thanks for ruining my senior year.'” McMillen said.

There was never any doubt this would happen. The district ‘leaders’ went ahead and ruined a significant moment in the lives of an entire high school class and then had the gall to blame an innocent student. They know the law disagrees with their stance. They know McMillen has a right to attend her prom with her girlfriend. They just don’t know why they’re morally wrong.

The school district had said it hoped a privately sponsored prom could be held. McMillen said if that happens, she’s sure she’ll be excluded.

“It’s a small town in Mississippi, and it’s run by an older generation with money. Most of them are more conservative and they don’t agree with it,” she said.

Okay, they topped themselves. I thought just canceling the prom was bigoted enough. Now the school is actually encouraging others to set up a private event. Why would a private event not be the same supposed distraction? Why does location matter? Why doesn’t the school want to host an event they can monitor with security for the students?

Fulton Mayor Paul Walker said he supports the school district’s decision and knew of no private efforts to host the prom.

“I think the community as a whole is probably in support of the school district,” Walker said of the town of about 4,000.

Oh. I guess if a lot of people agree, then it must be okay. It’s not like the school district is on its way to an assured legal defeat due to its bigotry or anything.

But wait! There’s more. As always, the arbitrary religious figure must be paraded out.

Southside Baptist Church Pastor Bobby Crenshaw said he’s seen the South portrayed as “backwards” on Web sites discussing the issue, “but a lot more people here have biblically based values.”

“But”? “But“?