The party system did not form until George Washington's first term. There were certainly factions, but nothing like the "Republican" or "Democratic" parties of today.
When the party system began during George Washington's first term, the two parties were called the "Federalist" and the "Democratic-Republican" parties. New England was primarily Federalist. The Mid-Atlantic and Southern states were primarily Democratic-Republican.
The Democratic-Republican Party is, in some sense, the ancestor of both major political parties today. The Democratic-Republican Party split into the Democratic Party and the National Republican Party after the 1824 election. This division forms the basis of the two major political parties we have today. (With several messy breakups, reunions, splinterings, and Third Parties.)
The main thrust of your argument is absolutely correct though, in that the northern folks generally argued that slaves were treated as property (and so should be taxed as such) and the southern folks generally argued that they should count as people. (And should be represented as such.)
No one seemed to get to the idea that if you were going to count someone for the purposes of representation, maybe you also had to let them vote. That would have also brought up interesting questions around the disenfranchisement of various other classes of people, namely women, some white men without property and freed slaves right from the start. Instead we had to wait a long time to start solving those problems.
Politics can be weird.
In the actual guidelines found here: http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html it doesn't say anything about well actually comments. It says be smart in your discussions and don't just get opinionated, it says to present facts and actually address the thing that you're arguing over. I believe having proper arguments and discussions is one of the core things HN is about. It lets people learn and see other points of view. If you don't like a comment just downvote it.
This is not what happened here. rvkennedy did not make a statement of fact, he made an off-the-cuff remark. eldude challenged the substance and tone of that remark in order to prevent further misrepresentation of the point. He corrected and clarified the remark in a clear and substal way, thus falling well outside of the 'well-actually' category.
Oh dear. I've spent way too much time reading SCOTUS rulings/blogs today.
IMHO a much better rule is "avoid acting as thought/discourse police."
I don't think "well-actually" comments are bad. Wikipedia says to avoid weasel words and "expressions that lack precision" , and I think well-actually statements often help clear up such ambiguity.
If someone follows up their "well, actually..." with a legitimate correction of the facts, then I don't see a problem with it.
Granted, sometimes you gotta break some eggs. But don't be surprised when the hen who laid that egg isn't to be happy about it.
In practice, this would be limited by the 14th Amendment. The prohibition against slavery trumps patent law, period. But I'm curious how far biotech companies would go before they got shut down.
EDIT: As pointed out below, 13th not 14th. My bad. Although due process in 14th would probably kick in as well.
The prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude (except as punishment for a crime) is the 13th Amendment, not the 14th Amendment.
I'd hope that a court would hold differently with human reproduction than Bowman v. Monsanto, but even if they don't it wouldn't be anything to do with the 13th Amendment.
Edit: Apparently Myriad patented more than just strands for the BRCA genes, including some methods and tests, which is one of the reasons their case is important to SCOTUS. With our current patent system, I think you'd have to patent a lot more than just the gene to be able to sue people over having it, especially children of genetically engineered parents.
in other words, you own the process of genetically modifying an organism, not the genes.
I dont know how realistic or unrealistic this is, since ianal.
edit: someone else mentioned the monsanto ruling, which makes this idea sound unrealistic
it is not the scientists who removed the introns from the officially unpatentable original DNA sequence to make the new, patentable cDNA sequence. It is nature itself, through the magic by which pre-RNA, which includes the introns, becomes messenger RNA, which does not. The Supreme Court described this process by saying, “the pre-RNA is then naturally ‘spliced’ by the physical removal of the introns” -- that is, the introns are removed as part of the ordinary process by which messenger RNA is created. The role scientists then subsequently play is to take the messenger RNA and use it to synthesize the intron-free cDNA.
To put it much more simply, there is nothing that a 6-year-old would consider “invented” about the patentable cDNA. It is nothing more than the messenger RNA flipped into a DNA sequence that omits unnecessary elements that nature already excluded. The sequence that codes the proteins is just as naturally occurring as the original DNA itself, which the court held couldn’t be patented because it was naturally occurring. The distinction is, to put it bluntly, a lawyer’s distinction, not a scientist’s.
(by Noah Feldman, a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard)
In the long run, Myriad is hosed because they no longer own the sequence, including analysis. Any diagnostic not using reverse transcription of the mRNA does not violate Myriad's patent. This includes synthesis of any non-cDNA polymer, such as XNA.
You could sequence the whole genome at higher depth, but this would be more expensive.
Edit: My mistake, the patent covers the reverse transcription step exclusively, not the act of transcription in general - which means PCR from genomic DNA is fine, but rtPCR or cDNA library construction is not... no scientific consistency there, but looks like cheaper BCRA tests in the near future.
That's the point. Patent law is very suitable for processes that cost millions to develop, but in pharmaceutics the big cost factor isn't process development, it is the discovery. What Myriad did is identify the gene, that is where the cost was sunk that they somehow have to recover.
But since you can patent only things, and not intellectual property, the Supreme Court had to resort to all kinds of legal hacks of the sort that judges hate to see applied in their courtroom.
Myriad kind of still wins as their cDNA synthesis technique is affirmed patentable, which would presumably be used in conjunction with a patient's own BRCA genes to determine their cancer risk. So the precise test itself appears patented still, but now other companies can make use of the BRCA genes themselves, perhaps to develop other treatments that don't use the cDNA synthesis technique.
"I join the judgment of the Court, and all of its opinion
except Part I–A and some portions of the rest of the opinion going into fine details of molecular biology. I am unable to affirm those details on my own knowledge or even
my own belief. It suffices for me to affirm, having studied
the opinions below and the expert briefs presented here,
that the portion of DNA isolated from its natural state
sought to be patented is identical to that portion of the
DNA in its natural state; and that complementary DNA
(cDNA) is a synthetic creation not normally present in
I wish more public officials would show this kind of honesty, esp. those voting on new laws and regulations. I am waiting for the first politician to come foward with a "I have no idea of this stuff, can anyone of my constituents explain to me how and why to vote on that" message.
That is precisely the primary function of lobbyists, as distasteful as it sounds when that word is used.
Many lobbyists also buy access, which is a separate problem.
Can you imagine the disastrous mess Congress would create if they knew even _less_ than they already know about the areas they're legislating? This is why regulating lobbying is hard; at root it's just citizens speaking to elected leaders (again, until money gets involved).
I suspect all too many of their constituents would be very happy to explain how they should vote on all sorts of matters. Getting peoples' opinions is the easy bit, working out which ones are worth listening to is the challenge.
Maybe we should just go with the most prevalent opinion on any issue. But, besides the practical issues, we can all probably think of at least one issue where we think the majority of people have got it wrong. We'd like our reasons to be considered, not just our numbers.
He voted that the police should not be permitted to take your DNA just because you were arrested.
He voted that government should not be permitted to take your property and give it to another private entity because it will generate higher taxes.
He voted that the police should not be permitted to enter your property with drug sniffing dogs without a warrant.
He voted that authorities scanning a home with an infrared camera without a warrant constituted an unreasonable search.
"If it were impossible for individual human beings (or groups of human beings) to act autonomously in effective pursuit of a common goal, the game of soccer would not exist", he said, when the court found it unconstitutional for the VMI to refuse admission to women.
"This ruling will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed [...] The nation will live to regret what the court has done today" he said when the court held that Guantanamo detainees have the right to appeal their captivity to federal courts.
"Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the Constitution?" he said, under obvious circumstances.
"Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda" he said, in attempting to retain a law that criminalized same-sex relationships in Texas.
Completely orthogonally, sometimes people judge someone based on the intention behind their actions.
In fact DNA intermediates with introns spliced can be reintegrated into the genome.
Further, faulty viruses can acquire oncogenes (intron-splicted, mtuated versions of growth factors, like EGF and HER2/neu) and transfer them to other cells via cDNA intermediates. It's not hard to believe that nature has in fact passed BRCA cDNAs around via retroviral intermediates.
so, if you want to demonstrate your claim, you would need to write a script that showed that there was no pseudogene that ever inserted at a nonspecific site. You can't show that. ergo, my proposal is more likely than yours. Further, it's support by evidence- for example, the genome is studded with p53 pseudogenes that reintegrated from cDNA nonspecifically.
See the first 4 chapters of "Biology of Cancer" by Weinberg.
the work is mostly on okazaki fragments, but a major conclusion from my phd thesis was that B-RNA is stuck because of a very low probability event (the breaking of a large number of hbonds simultaneously).
Remember, the patent is a MOLECULE patent, not a PROCESS patent.
Anyway, your comment about oncogenes again shows you haven't read Biology of Cancer. if you read the first four chapters, it works out the history through which we worked out the understand of oncogenes. And the history is different from what we know now to be the prevalent mechanisms. The use of tumor viruses, which is nicely explained, demonstrates that scientists had already described the phenomenon I'm cited in the mid-1970's. That phenomenon wasn't really followed up on after the mid-80s, when people got better mechanisms and a larger understanding of cancer. But if you go back to the tumor virus literature and really understand it at a fundamental level, you have to acknowledge that BRCA cDNAs identical to the Myriad patent have almost certainly existed in both free (nucleoplasm) and integrated forms in at least one cell in the past. Whether that cell survived, is irrelevant.
Finally, if you think an existence proof is going to break a patent, I wish you luck in your future pursuits in life.
"First, the case is only about whether genes are patentable subject matter; that is, are they the kinds of things that are eligible for patent protection under section 101 of the Patent Act, assuming that all other requirements for patentability are met. Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of gene patents here, every gene patent would still have to pass the tests of novelty (section 102) and nonobviousness (section 103), and to be the subject of an adequately explicit written description (section 112)."
That's taken from this legal genomics blog: http://www.genomicslawreport.com/index.php/2013/05/01/some-t...
Highly recommend all of their articles if you are interested in this kind of thing.
Of course, that just makes it even more ridiculous.
But it leaves open the question of "infringement" on cDNA when you aren't party to the creation. Specifically the guys who have GMO Wheat growing in their field in Oregon, if they didn't put it there, they didn't know it had become GMO, and it was only discovered when Japan tested it, then what is their liability? And what is Monsanto's? (GMO Wheat isn't approved) I suspect these "escapes" of cDNA will become more common and the "factories" producing them, things like e.coli and algae, won't really respect the owner's rights here. :-)
Are you assuming that the plant is infected with a retrovirus?
A genome with a modified gene is not cDNA, and I'm not sure how to parse your comment so I'm basically trying to see if there was an error in your comment or an error in my reading of it.
Also, when did cDNA come to mean composite DNA instead of complementary DNA? This seems made up to imply some kind of invention instead of it just being the mirror image of the DNA molecule.
If the sequence is logically equivalent but stored on a different medium, how is that novel? The invention of the new medium or new techniques for transcribing between media may be, but the sequence itself isn't.
In any case, the original point I was trying to make was that the natural occurrence of the mRNA does not make the cDNA a naturally occurring product.
So any particular mRNA might actually have several different products, or may just get chopped up into shRNA or microRNA.
EDIT: Actually I'm completely opposed to patents.
EDIT2: Here is a more detailed analysis - I didn't post it earlier since dreamhost was down. http://www.indysci.org/mission/onpatenting.html
EDIT: Sorry I re-read my original comment - I meant "synthetic modifications", not necessarily only to DNA, but to natural products in general.
But is not isolation by PCR a synthetic modification? If I made a useful machine out of a single piece of wood using a six-axis subtractive tooling device, would you argue that the machine is unpatentable because "it was already there"?
PCR actually goes even further - conceptually it's subtractive procedure but it actually does so by creating copies within the specific boundaries. These boundaries don't exist in nature, the act of specifying the boundaries is creative, and without the prior research, non-obvious.
For example, there is a molecule thiostrepton which is an antibiotic compound, that's really quite poor. They have recently discovered that only the core of the molecule is necessary for antibiosis, and removal of the rest of the molecule improves its pharmacological properties. It's a distinct molecule, created by the scission of 3 covalent bonds. Should it be unpatentable? Almost certainly, somewhere in nature, there has a thiostrepton molecule that by accident happened to have been cleaved at exactly the right places to render the molecule. does that change your opinion?
I am not trying to defend the practice - I abhor patents - but a lot of people are letting their emotional reaction to "patenting genes" get in the way of a dispassionate and informed analysis of what actually is going on here.
It seems preposterous to say that you are strongly against patents, and then say you think the patent should be much more restrictive. I have no emotional reaction to patenting genes. I think patenting a significant modification of a naturally occurring substance is completely reasonable as it protects the investments involved in inventing and applying the modifications, while at the same time allowing others to use and understand the development. Without patents biotech would become full of trade secrets, holding back progress in the field.
The only reason why the perspective seems confusing is because you're conflating process with molecules. In general any given claim of a patent can protect the molecule or the process. Myriad did not choose to claim the process, because the process is obvious. But having a process that is obvious does not necessarily make the molecule obvious.
Doing PCR is not innovative. But the process DOES transform one molecule into another, unless your primers are exactly flush with the end of the dsDNA - in which case it is merely a straight copying operation. OK? The molecule that comes out at the end has a different covalent structure than the molecule that you start with. Is that not true? if you don't believe that, then you would make the claim that octane 'is the same as' dodecane, because it's just a truncated version.
Also, it is not an exact copy of something in nature, unless that 'thing' is a data fragment. It is an original molecule, that copies the data, but the molecule is distinct. That is an important point. Molecule patents don't care about the abstract qualities of something (beyond proving that it's useful). Molecule patents only care about the structure of the molecule.
I am happy with the SCOTUS decision though from a pragmatic point of view, because there is a prokaryotic gene I'd like to "steal", that's under patent application right now
of course prokaryotic genes have no introns, so I just got a field day on it.
In practice this might not be the hardest thing to do. Do you like someone's engineered version of a gene? Then transform some randomized libraries into cell cultures (or add mutagens) and keep fishing until you extract a "natural" copy that is the same as the patented cDNA.
---- Spoilers, obviously ----
So they're clones, and they have a "special repeating marker" of some sorts. One of the clones is a biochemist, and she manages to decode it. Turns out, it is a copyright message covering those organisms and their biological offspring as property of X corporation.
Spooky, but wouldn't the message get diluted after reproduction?
However, since this is sci-fi, it may be possible that some of the genetic sequence is setup to actually alter the meiosis process and not perform any "crossing over" events in egg cell construction.
Correct me if I misunderstood the ruling, but it seems to be absolutely ridiculous. You could just automate the process of isolating genes, sequencing them and statistically identifying their mRNA strands, isolating them, and creating cDNA strands. I know this isn't technically "nonobvious" but if you can automate the process to the point where you have robots spitting out gene patents, then it's a pretty low bar.
And if you want to read my writeup (which is slightly geared toward explaining the biology from simple first principles, http://www.indysci.org/mission/onpatenting.html)
It seems that inventions which copy themselves and masquerade in difficult/expensive to detect ways (see plant reproduction, airborne pollen) wasn't something foreseen by those who wrote our patent laws.
The famous case about that didn't actually hinge on whether GM crops had turned up on a farm unexpectedly, but on whether the farmer had then deliberately selected seed from the GM plants to replant the next year's crop.
 - http://www.google.com/finance?cid=658315
Another excellent book on the ethics of bio-engineering and patentability is the true story, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."
Just because you're using components that exist in nature that may come together and occasionally produce the result you want - when a human hand enters the picture to do it deliberately and get a controlled result, to gain a certain end, that's qualifies it as non-natural.
Should read "the nucleotide sequences". If they can't get the definitions right, why is the rest of the opinion valid?
Is it time for a "Court of Science" at the district or appellate level?
This is not the same as what's been done more frequently for the last long while which was dissecting existing genes from other DNA strands (lets say gene XYZ from a starfish) and introducing it into a bacteria.
Also, this doesn't mean I agree with the new law. I think this motion is even more nonsensical than software patents we face today, and has already handed off all the wonderful innovations that the synthetic biology revolution has to offer to a nation who's pumping loads of cash into this sector: China.
Sequence space is very large. There are only a total of 8 million US patents. There are 16 million 12-base-pair nucleotide sequences. To patent the sequence space of a functional product and regulatory region would require more patents than there are molecules in the universe.
Also to patent something you have to show use.
If a group of people synthesize and test many synthetic DNA sequences and then patent the useful ones, that seems fine to me. You might even call them "synthetic biologists". They have invented new things, which are not found in nature, by the process of their own skills, knowledge, and labor, and which are useful to other people. It seems perfectly reasonable that those inventions should be protected by the patent system.
It's not the synthesis method that is at stake here, it is the engineered biological system itself (system referring to a gene, regulatory sequence, genetic pathway, or organism). The kind of innovation involved in this kind of engineering is precisely what the patent system is designed to protect, so that it can be monetized while also disseminated. Without patents these innovations will remain trade secrets and hold back the progress of synthetic biology. Without patents private companies may not be able to justify investment required for innovation. Without patents inability to monetize inventions reduces the overall economic impact (return on investment) for public financing of life sciences, which in turn removes a powerful incentive for government financing of research.
For instance, a company finds a compound that fights cancer. The company invents a way to synthesize or purify this compound and sell it. The patent protects the inventor and allows them to recoup the investment. This is widely accepted. Now consider that company engineers an organism that can produce the compound in large bio-reactors. The modified organism - and in particular the engineered DNA sequences - are completely analogous to the chemical manufacturing process, and should be similarly protected.
Moreover, consider that the second process may remove a need to use the organic carbon precursors necessary for chemical synthesis (fossil fuels), or eliminates a toxic by-product of chemical synthesis, or is much cheaper and therefore reduces the cost of the compound, benefiting the public. These are real world consequences of synthetic biology protected by the patent system. They don't seem so scary to me.
That being said, I think that even if you take a natural gene and modify it meaningfully - that should be patent-able. For instance, if you take an enzyme and engineer a version that doesn't degrade as readily, or has much better activity, that should be patent-able, don't you think?
EDIT: There's a good deal of prior art regarding numbers. As for patenting molecules, we allow that all the time... drugs, compounds, etc. Because they are discovered as I describe above.
(First result from google)
Obviously there's more to it than this really simplified statement but that's what goes on at a high-level. There's a number of people writing software for projects to help anyone author synthetic DNA (see http://synbiota.ca/ ) and start playing with this stuff, just as we do with makerbots or the PC revolution of yesteryear.