Japan's Council for Science and Technology is to call for the open release of human genome data, according to a news report in last week's Nature. The forthcoming announcement will say that 'all data and results' from human genome research should be made public, to ensure scientific progress.
Earlier this year, the Japanese Patent Agency said it would not approve patents for genes of unknown function, or for incomplete DNA sequences. Following this announcement, the government's Research Association for Biotechnology released DNA sequence data for 2,200 human genes, produced by a consortium of private Japanese firms. The public release of the gene sequences will stop other companies filing patents on them, while giving the consortium time to investigate their functions.
Some scientists claim that opposition from the government's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has made it difficult for Japan to adopt a position on the release of human genetic data.
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Japan calls for open access to human genome data