display | more...
BRCA1 is a tumor-supressing gene in humans; if even one copy of it is damaged, cancer can develop. Certain mutations confer a high probability (85% lifetime risk) of developing breast cancer, and other types cause ovarian cancer. Familial mutations of this gene are particularly common among people in the Ashkenazi Jewish ethnic group.

From the BioTech Dictionary at http://biotech.icmb.utexas.edu/. For further information see the BioTech homenode.

BRCA1 is more interesting than many cancer genes for reasons almost completely unrelated to its function. After its discovery, Myriad Genetics successfully applied for a patent on the gene covering its usage in diagnostic and theraputic roles. Want to build a BRCA1 construct to examine the pathway? Tough, you'll need to license it. Screening for people who are potentially susceptible to developing breast or ovarian cancer? Myriad will be taking a cut. As a result, BRCA1 is a poster child for those who oppose patenting of genetic material, with the primary argument being that the patents prevent research that may save lives and costs for health services are higher than would otherwise be necessary.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.