A patent is an exclusive right given by law to inventors to make use of, and develop, their inventions for a limited period of time.
23andMe's patent relates to a subtle change in the genetic code that may reduce a person's risk of developing Parkinson's.
In science, patents can be used to protect new discoveries, like potential drugs, from being exploited by others. This means patented ideas and discoveries can be bought, sold and invested in.
Over 6,500 people with Parkinson's from all over the world have taken part in the study so far. Participants fill in an internet survey about their symptoms and lifestyle and provide a sample of saliva containing their DNA.
It's very rare for Parkinson's to be inherited. But access to such a huge amount of information has allowed the researchers to pinpoint genetic changes that slightly affect the risk of developing the condition.
The question of whether genetic discoveries can be patented is a hot topic that's currently being debated in the US courts.
There are 2 sides to the story. Companies like 23andMe argue that patents are the best way to translate discoveries into new treatments. But critics say patents hinder the progress of academic research.
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