Pokemon USA threatens to sue cancer researchers

Nintendo subsidiary threatens legal action to keep scientists from referring to cancer-causing gene by the nickname "Pokemon."

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In a January issue of the science journal Nature, Pier Paolo Pandolfi of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York described the cancer-causing POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic gene, calling it Pokemon in the process.

Not pleased by the rush of headlines proclaiming "Pokemon causes cancer," Pokemon USA threatened legal action against the center to have the name of its popular game and trading card series disassociated from the gene, reports the latest issue of Nature. The center has complied with Pokemon USA's demands, and now refers to the gene by the much less-catchy name Zbtb7, Nature reports.

This is not the first time researchers have dipped into the world of gaming for a research nickname. The Sonic hedgehog gene was named after Sega's speedy mascot in 1993. Sega has never sued over the matter, even though mutations in the developmental gene can lead to a number of brain and facial defects, including cyclopia.

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