Archive for March 27, 2012

Common Sense reaches High Court – Myriad cannot patent BRCA1/2 genes

March 27, 2012 1 comment

For while Myriad Genetics, Inc was a lice in the pelt of breast cancer research and breast cancer treatment, as they had the patent for two common genes associated with breast cancer: BRCA1 and BRCA2. Their logic was that because they isolated the gene via cloning and PCR, they created a new and unique product: cloned BRCA1 and BCRA2. Any molecular biologist can teach a high school kid to isolate and clone any gene in the human body, but this logic was to deaf ears at the legal team of Myriad Genetics. To test if you might be a carrier of a variant of BRCA1 or BRCA2 that would greatly increase your chance of getting breast cancer you had to cough up $3000 for a simple genetic test that cost by itself no more than $50 to perform.

Last year Myriad won a court battle between logic (or common sense if you will) and their own financial interest. Their focus on the cloning step was perceived as nothing but insulting to anyone familiar with common cloning protocols, but it was convincing on legal grounds in the mind of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Until today, as the High Court reversed the previous court decision, which was an overrule of another court battle.

Another ethical issue is: how can a corporation own a naturally occurring generally defined gene? First of all, every human and all its close relatives, including mice and rats have a BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. Does Myriad before today own all these genes in each individual of each species? If it only applies to human cases, how different would a gene variant be to considered to fall under Myriad’s patent? If a gene duplication event would take place, would Myriad be able to sue this individual for having an extra copy of their patented gene?

Although this legal battle was won by common sense, Myriad will surely appeal the high court’s ruling, as their entire company in based on their patented ownership of  BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Categories: Recent News

BMCDB SSS: Haifeng Wang “The anaphase B switch in mitosis: the role of kinesin-13 “

March 27, 2012 Leave a comment

BMCDB Student Seminar Series


Haifeng Wang (Scholey lab)


The anaphase B switch in mitosis: the role of kinesin-13


This Wednesday  28 March

1:10-2 PM

LSA 1022

Delicious and semi nutritious free pizza!!!

This is not only a great opportunity to meet and keep in contact with your fellow students from different years and learn about what student speakers are doing, in specific for 1st years.

Your participation is the only way this seminar series will succeed!

See you all at 1pm.

-Daniël and Ralph


The schedule for this quarter is:

Spring 2012

Mar 28 – Haifeng Wang

Apr 11 – Brian Avanzino

Apr 25 – Alan Lombard

May 09 – Kristen Beck

May 23 – Damian Guerra

Want to learn more about wine or grapes?

March 27, 2012 2 comments

Here is a great resource for you! A massive glossary of viticulture and enology terms hosted by eViticulture.

Whether you are an enophile, a plant nerd, or just a casual wine drinker there are definitions on here that will increase your depth of understanding, and maybe even lead to some better questions next time you go wine tasting!

Here are some examples from the glossary:

Bilateral cordon: Extensions of the trunk in the form of two permanent horizontal branches each supported by a wire, extending in opposite directions and from which fruiting positions originate. Examples are high cordon, with downward shoot orientation, and low cordon, with vertical shoot positioning.

Botrytis: Botrytis bunch rot or gray mold is a fungal disease that infects fruits and occasionally shoots and leaves; caused by Botrytis cinerea. The benevolent form is known as “noble rot” and is responsible for some of the world’s finest sweet wines.

Chaptalizing: The addition of sugar to the must or juice before fermentation to make up for deficiencies in vine-ripened sugar levels.

ELISA: Acronym for Enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay. A test that can be used to confirm the presence of specific proteins signifying the presence of certain pathogens.

Lees: The solid sediments (such as dead yeast, seeds, and pulp) left after fermentation. These will be deposited at the bottom of the fermenting barrel or tank. Different winemaking methods are used to manage the lees.

Methoxypyrazines: A class of chemical compounds that produces herbaceous odors (e.g,. green bell pepper). In white wine (e.g., Sauvignon blanc), the odors can be desirable. However, in red wines (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon) high levels of methoxypyrazines are very undesirable.

Sulfites: Sulfur-based compounds that occur naturally during wine fermentation, but are also often added before, during, or after fermentation. They protect wine from oxidation and the activity of undesirable microorganisms, particularly bacteria. Sulfites are typically added at higher levels to white and/or sweet wines to prevent browning and/or spoilage.

Titratable acidity: Acidity of a juice, must or wine determined from the amount of base needed to titrate the wine to a specific end point pH. Usually sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is used for titration to an end point pH of 8.2 in the US and 7.0 in France. Titratable acidity is reported in g/L tartaric acid equivalents and often abbreviated as TA.

Vitis vinifera: European grape native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. Also known as Old World or European grapes. Also see American grape.


Categories: Interesting link, UC Davis