Genes: Who Made Profits The Prime Consideration?

Your article "The gene kings" (Cover story, May 8) is a typical mischaracterization and misunderstanding of how scientific research functions in the U.S. The two scientists that you espouse to be "kings" have no clothes, and their "achievements" come from the labor of thousands of dedicated scientists across the world who have built this technology that they are trying to exploit in a get-rich-quick scheme.

Your article does point out a rather unfortunate direction in the research community--a focus on profit over making a positive contribution. One thing is certain: The lawyers for these parties will get very rich.

Douglas Coffin

Great Falls, Mont.

Reading your article reinforced our commitment to examine the ethical issues that result from gene research and therapy. In addition to the legal ethics related to patenting gene sequences, a central issue surrounding gene therapy is how this technology affects patient populations. These ethical issues include the availability of gene testing to low-income patient populations, and discrimination by employers and health- and life-insurance companies toward people carrying a cancer or disease gene.

As medical technology progresses, the ethical application of these advances needs to be discussed.

Dr. Norman T. Mendel

City of Hope National

Medical Center

Duarte, Calif.

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