As a follow up to my post last week asking about human dignity, unburied bones and ownership of human cells, here are two related issues that appeared in the Sunday news.
The first item from Sunday’s Baltimore Sun is the belated report of a Reuters story about the controversy over disposition of King Richard III’s newly discovered remains uncovered in a municipal parking lot by the University of Leicester. The long-lost remains of the King, who died in 1485, were exhumed, and the University was given permission to re-inter the remains in Leicester. But the King’s descendants objected claiming that they were not “consulted … over the exhumation and the license allowing the university to re-bury the King, and [that] this failure breached the European Convention on Human Rights.” They want the body buried in York.
The second item is an op-ed by two medical school academics, Jeffrey Rosenfeld and Christopher E. Mason, that appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post about Association for Molecular Pathology et al v. Myriad Genetics, et al, a case that will be argued in the Supreme Court on April 15th. This is important case that has been mentioned on this blog as recently as last February. SCOTUS even featured a symposium spurred by the controversy. At issue is whether, on some level, human genes are patentable. Rosenfeld and Mason oppose patenting DNA. On the other hand, much like the researchers discussing the HeLa cell, the respondents, Myriad Genetics, et al, argue that the issue is much narrower, namely whether the “human” aspect of the specific sequence of isolated human DNA is the result of the efforts of the respondent, and thus patentable. Read More