Friday, December 26, 2008

Next - Book Review

By Michael Crichton
Harper Collins 2006
Interview 2007 (video - 1 hour)

Michael Crichton died last month. So I thought I would read one of his more recent novels in his honour. Next was published in 2006. It is a cautionary tale about DNA manipulation and gene ownership gone too far.

There are several storylines in this novel.
One involves some people being infected with an experimental gene before trials have even started, and the effects on them.
Another involves a court case where the courts must decide if genes harvested from a living person by a company, are owned by the company or by the person. And if they are owned by the company, does that give the company the right to just TAKE tissue and blood samples from the descendents of the original donor.
And a third involves a talking parrot and a talking chimp.

I found the court case to be the most interesting.

If you watch the interview (linked above) Crichton says that because the research companies OWN diseases and genomes for those diseases, NOONE ELSE can test for them or do research on them without permission from the owning company.

To me, this explains why there is STILL no cancer cure, or an AIDS cure or a Hepatitis C cure. because the companies do not want to CURE those diseases. All the big pharma comnpanies are doing, is create drugs that keep us alive for longer, but do not cure us.

Now I want to read State of Fear - about Global warming.

In the Author’s Note, Crichton shared his own personal feelings about gene manipulation at the end of the book.

Stop patenting genes.
Establish clear guidelines for the use of human tissues.
Pass laws to ensure that data about gene testing is made public.
[Referring to results of gene therapy trials]
Avoid bans on research.
Rescind the Bayh-Dole Act
[this allows universities to patent and make money off their research].

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