The Patentability of Isolated DNA Will be Decided by the Supreme Court

On November 30, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the Federal Circuit decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, holding that isolated human genes are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The question under review is whether human genes are patentable.

The Petitioners for review by the Supreme Court are a group of medical professionals, activist groups and patients, who assert that Myriad’s patents cover every naturally occurring version of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer, including those containing mutations. The Petitioners argued that the patents inhibit scientific research involving the genes, prevent patients from accessing their own genetic information, allowed Myriad to dictate the cost of genetic testing, stopped other laboratories from creating and offering new and improved testing procedures and made it impossible to obtain second opinions that could better inform patients of their cancer risk.

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