Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Expensive Genes

Did you know that there are certain genes in your body that you don’t own? If you wanted to find out if you had a specific gene, you would have to pay a company a lot of money for the test, because they own it.

This kind of blew my mind; it’s one of the stories discussed on 60 Minutes.

In fact, there are a host of companies that hold patents on genes, and they have for decades. It’s an interesting case where a company doesn’t invent something, but simply discovers something—and then lays claim to it.

Only, it’s not that simple.

In order to discover a gene that causes, say, a mutation, someone needs to invest money. And those investors expect a return. But what happens when capitalism gets in the way of public health? Watch the episode and let us know what you think.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Some of you may listen to the show Marketplace on NPR. They recently did a story on the “baseball card bubble.” Apparently, having a mint condition card is not all we used to think it was when we were kids. There were stories of finding that rare but flawed Honus Wagner card, selling it, and living like you’d just won the lottery.

This notion seems to have been fueled by that show Antiques Roadshow, where people bring in their junk, and discover that Grandpa’s teakettle is worth $20K.

Find out what’s happening (or not) on the baseball card front here.