Federal judge says no to patents on cancer genes

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On March 29, a federal district court in New York ruled that DNA sequences are not eligible for patent protection under the U.S. patent laws. The ruling stems from an action filed by the Association for Molecular Pathology along with other organizations and individuals, challenging the validity and constitutionality of patents directed to DNA sequences for the BRCA1 and 2 genes as well as methods for using such sequences for diagnostic tests. The BRCA1 and 2 genes are important in identifying a predisposition to breast and ovarian cancers. Myriad Genetics, a co-defendant in the lawsuit and the exclusive licensee of the patents, uses the patented sequences to provide a genetic test for mutations in the BRCA genes.

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