Australian Federal Court Upholds Myriad’s Gene Patent

While the question of patentability of isolated gene sequences awaits resolution at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Australian Federal Court today upheld Myriad Genetics’ patent on methods for screening for cancer-predisposing mutations in the BRCA1 gene. Cancer Voices Australia v. Myriad Genetics Inc., NSD643/2010, Federal Court of Australia (Sydney). The result is a significant win for Myriad and its Australian licensee Genetics Technologies Ltd., and provides long-awaited certainty for holders of patents directed to isolated gene sequences and for the Australian biotech industry as a whole.

Echoing the arguments made by petitioner Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) in its recently filed Supreme Court brief in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. (“Myriad”), applicants Cancer Voices Australia and Yvonne D’Arcy, a Brisbane resident diagnosed with breast cancer, argued that Myriad’s patent was not patent-eligible because it claims naturally occurring subject matter—DNA that is not materially different from DNA found in nature.

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