Who Owns Your Genes? The Gene Patent Quiz

By: Michael Franco

Who Owns Your Genes? The Gene Patent Quiz
Image: Ian Cuming/Ikon Images/Getty Images

About This Quiz

You inherited your genes from your parents, and they’re the building blocks of who you are. So how could someone patent them? Test your knowledge in our gene patent quiz.
The four general purposes for patenting a gene are:
research, marketing, profit and publicity
diagnostics, functional use, process, composition of matter
Composition of matter patents are at the heart of the legal debate over gene patents.
novelty, repurposing of matter, utility, body of knowledge

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The first gene patent was granted in:
1905
1974
1982
The first gene patent was issued in 1982 to the University of California for a hormone involved with breast development in pregnant women.

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Approximately how many patents are there on human genes?
75 to 200
3,000 to 5,000
There are currently more than 3,000 patents on human genes, and that number is growing all the time!
12,000 to 13,000

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Approximately how many patents are there that involve genetic material?
14,000
32,000
47,000
There are more than 47,000 patents involving genetic material. This includes patents on not only individual genes, but also on strands of genes and processes and equipment used to research and isolate them.

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What was the first recombinant genetic product to get a patent?
Diet Coke
insulin
Some people may treat Diet Coke like it's vital to their survival, but insulin was the first recombinant genetic product to be granted a patent. Human growth hormone (HGH) came shortly after.
human growth hormone

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To date, how many protein-coding genes have been identified by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium?
19,599
The consortium was responsible for mapping the human genome and has identified nearly 20,000 different protein-coding genes.
124,943
1,293,288

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Approximately what percent of human genes are patented?
20 percent
40 percent
Less than half of human genes are associated with issued patents. So, there's still plenty of "you" left untouched!
80 percent

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Roughly how many gene patent applications have been filed?
150,000 to 300,000
500,000 to 1,000,000
more than 1 million
After the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, the number of gene patent applications skyrocketed, and more than 1 million have been filed to date.

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What three conditions must exist for something to receive a patent? It must be:
temperate, arid and humid
useful, non-obvious, describable
Things outside of weather conditions can certainly be patented, and plenty of offensive and lethal things are also protected by patent law. The third required condition -- describability -- is sometimes called the enablement criterion, because it enables someone other than the patent holder to make or use the invention.
inoffensive, nonlethal, organic

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How long does a patent protect an invention?
20 years
For 20 years after a patent is issued, no one other than the holder can make or use the item under patent without permission from, and usually payment to, the patent holder.
99 years
forever

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The most widely publicized gene patent controversy involved genes that predicted the risk of what?
hoof and mouth disease
breast and ovarian cancer
The genes involved are known as RCA1 and BRCA2, and Myriad Genetics has developed a test that determines if a woman has a deformation of these genes that may indicate an increased risk of developing breast or ovarian cancers.
lung and throat cancer

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Which celebrity became involved in gene patent legislation around 2007?
Natalie Portman
Michael Crichton
Crichton's 2006 novel, "Next," was a bio-thriller focusing on the world of genetic research.
Moby

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The Plant Patent Act, which allowed products of nature to be patented for the first time, was issued in which year?
1856
1930
Once it was enacted in 1930, the Plant Patent Act allowed plant breeders to patent new types of plant life.
1997

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What famous court case set the stage for patenting living organisms?
Plants v. Zombies
Diamond v. Chakrabarty
In Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a strain of bacteria developed in the lab could, in fact, receive a patent.
Franco v. Curry

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The Human Genome Project began in what year?
1962
1974
1987
The project got under way in the late 1980s, and it was completed two years ahead of schedule in 2003.

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What percentage of human DNA creates proteins that function as genes?
1.1 to 1.4 percent
Though less than 2 percent of our DNA fits this description, the great majority of gene patents focus only on the protein-producing sections of genetic material.
12.7 to 21.2 percent
27.8 to 30 percent

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How much did the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spend on genetics research from 2003 to 2007?
more than $5 million
more than $14 billion
While $14 billion is a lot of cash, there's the possibility that the cost of genetics research could reach into the trillions in the future.
more than $1 trillion

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Approximately how many genes are there in one human chromosome?
100
1,000
One chromosome can carry about 1,000 genes.
10,000

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If all the DNA in your cells was stretched out, it would go to the moon and back about how many times?
50
50 million
1 million
All that DNA could pave the theoretical way for 1 million trips to Earth's biggest satellite.

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About how many DNA molecules are found in the complete human genome?
65 million
The genome is the complete set of genetic material in an organism, and it contains more than 65 million DNA molecules.
125 million
300 million

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You Got:
/20
Ian Cuming/Ikon Images/Getty Images

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