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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 29th July 2016 > THE C YOU CAN’T SEE

THE C YOU CAN’T SEE

Is Big Genetics impeding treatment and innovation by hoarding patient data?

@sw4mi

IN AUGUST 2014, while vacationing with his wife and son in Puerto Rico, Ken Deutsch felt a sharp pain along his spine. He’d had backaches before, but this was new and more severe. He began popping Advil “like crazy,” he says, then noticed another symptom: blood in his urine.

It wasn’t the first time he’d seen it. It had shown up in April. He had an enlarged prostate, so his doctor thought it might be a related infection. But when antibiotics didn’t stop the blood, he went to a urologist. After a scan and a scope, he was eventually diagnosed with Stage I bladder cancer. The doctor had found multiple tumors on the inside of the sac.

IRONING OUT GENES LAW: In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled against Myriad Genetics in its attempt to patent isolated strands of DNA.
JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

There’s been a lot of cancer in Deutsch’s family. His father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 52 and died within months. His grandmother had pancreatic cancer too, but her death was slow, agonizing. “I was like, Whew, I dodged a bullet. It’s only bladder cancer and Stage I,” says Deutsch. “We caught it early. We can get it under control.”

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