Cambia is a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to democratise innovation in areas such as agriculture, public health, and the environment. The Lens is an initiative of Cambia, the Queensland University of Technology, and NICTA (who we worked with at the same time to create e-health demos at NICTA's recent TechFest 2013).
The PatSeq Explorer offers a view of an entire genome, with patent documents and sequences mapped alongside. This allows people to see which genes, diseases, and traits are getting the most attention from the research community.
This is a beta release, so we hope to bring you more updates soon. If you have any feedback or suggestions leave us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why understanding patents is important now
An important case study is the BRCA1 gene, when it's damaged, increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
Recently, the Federal Court of Australia ruled that a patent for BRCA1 (here at The Lens: In Vivo Mutations And Polymorphisms In The 17q-Linked Breast And Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility Gene) was legal. Patents, in general, do not cover things found in nature. Those who support the patents argue that the genes being patented are isolated and prepared in a lab; and would never be found in nature in such a state. Those opposed argue that, amongst other things, the wider community loses access to research and the ability to put the gene through thorough scientific rigour.
The PatSeq explorer aims to arm people with more information about genes and patents so that they have a more informed view about such a significant issue of our time.
Read more at the NYTimes: Supreme Court to Look at a Gene Issue, by Adam Liptak 30 Nov 2012, The Conversation: Gene patenting: Australian court rules BRCA1 patent is legal, by Bill Madden, 16 Feb 2013, and ABC: Gene Patent, by Sophie Scott, Feb 15 2013.