The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent "think tank" funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, has set up a Roundtable group to consider the ethical and legal issues surrounding the patenting of DNA and proteins. The group, which includes social scientists, ethicists, lawyers and biotechnologists as well as geneticists and molecular biologists, will consider such issues as the role of the patenting system and its influence on research and innovation, the possible effects on patenting on the availability and affordability of gene-based tests, and the balance between the private and public sectors. The group is due to produce a discussion paper by the end of this year, which it hopes will inform public debate and policy development.