Supreme Court Will Decide Whether Human Genes Are Patentable

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"Biotechnology companies say they have been getting patents on genes for 30 years and can't attract investment dollars unless they can protect their research from competitors. The central legal question is whether isolated DNA is a product of nature and thus ineligible for patent protection."

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider whether human genes can be patented, taking up an issue that has split the medical community and will shape the future of personalized health care and the biotechnology industry.

The justices yesterday said they will hear a challenge to Myriad Genetics Inc. (MYGN)'s patents on genetic material used in tests for breast and ovarian cancer. Doctors, researchers and patients are opposing the patents, arguing that Myriad's monopoly over the genes is blocking clinical testing and research.

"Myriad and other gene patent holders have gained the right to exclude the rest of the scientific community from examining the naturally occurring genes of every person in the United States," the group argued in its appeal, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Biotechnology companies say they have been getting patents on genes for 30 years—and can't attract investment dollars unless they can protect their research from competitors. . .View Full Article

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