Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Scientific knowledge and invention rapidly accelerated in the past few decades, resulting in an untold number of broken barriers and realized benefits. In 2001, scientists announced that the human genome, consisting of 30,000 to 40,000 genes, had been fully characterized. Arguably one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in history, this accomplishment came far sooner than anyone could have anticipated. Fueled by the enormous marketing potential in finding causes and cures for many diseases, the biotechnology industry invested heavily in the project with the hope of maximizing control of genetic intellectual property and its potential downstream value.

While the genomic revolution has steadily progressed, the ability of researchers to identify and characterize proteins has increased exponentially thanks to technological advancements. The culmination of the Human Genome Project only added to this advancement and shifted the focus from genetic characterization to the proteins they express. The research effort to characterize completely all proteins normally and abnormally expressed in the human body is roughly known as proteomics. Proteins hold vastly more promise than even genes for drug discovery and medical research, and proteomics has quickly "become the new darling of the investment community." As with genomics, the biomedical industry is rapidly attempting to claim as much patent territory in proteomics as possible.