Supreme Court Rules Human Genes May Not be Patented

The occasional good news surfaces

 

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, a decision that could shape the future of medical and genetic research and have profound effects on pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

It’s not a full bore win.  Synthetic DNA is patentable, but the ACLU, which brought the case, is celebrating.

The case arose when a group of medical researchers, associations and patients – represented by the American Civil Liberties Union – filed suit in 2009, saying human genes, including synthetically produced material, should not be patented.

They challenged seven patents owned by or licensed to Myriad on two genes – called BRCA1 and BRCA2 – linked to breast and ovarian cancer. A federal judge said the patents were invalid. An appeals court overruled that decision, and the case landed at the Supreme Court.

“Today, the court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation,” said Sandra Park of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “Myriad did not invent the BRCA genes and should not control them. Because of this ruling, patients will have greater access to genetic testing and scientists can engage in research on these genes without fear of being sued.”  Reuters

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