Who Owns the Fundamental Building Blocks of Life?

Mike Pohlman | June 13, 2013

ChromosomesThanks to the United States Supreme Court, we know that Myriad Genetics doesn’t. As The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that human genes isolated from the body can’t be patented, a victory for doctors and patients who argued that such patents interfere with scientific research and the practice of medicine.

The case involved patents “related to two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, that can indicate whether a woman has a heightened risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer.” The ruling concluded that because the genes are “products of nature” they are not eligible for patents.

Sandra Park of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the groups challenging the patents, sees this as a major victory for patients and doctors:

Today, the court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation. 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.

You can read the PDF version of the 22-page ruling here.
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Mike Pohlman serves as Team Julia's Executive Director.