Supreme Court Rules Against Human Gene Ownership

Posted By on July 15th, 2013 at 8:22 am | 15 comments.

Supreme Court with ribbonThe Supreme Court recently ruled that the breast cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 cannot be patented. What does this ruling mean for breast cancer research?

It means a lot.  BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes in which mutations can occur, increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.  Myriad Genetics had those genes isolated and patented to control their genetic testing.  With this ruling, other companies can expand their genetic testing to include both BRCA1and BRCA2.

The Supreme Court’s decision weighed on whether BRCA1 and BRCA2 were invented or if they are simply a product of nature.  Justice Clarence Thomas says he considers the discovery of the genes by Myriad Genetics a “medical breakthrough,” but not an invention. The historic ruling means no human gene isolated from the body can be patented.


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