23andMe’s first patent on gene variant for Parkinson’s disease raises hopes, hackles

Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The recent news of 23andMe’s first patent shows how patents on natural genes continue despite the complex legal situation faced by other companies, and despite an explicitly stated ethos of openness and “democratization.” 23andMe has patented methods for screening the naturally occurring variants of the human genome they found to be associated with risk for Parkinson’s disease. The announcement on the company’s blog, The Spittoon, clarifies what they hope the patent will and won’t do.

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