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Justice: Human Genes Cannot Be Patented

Started by stromboli, June 13, 2013, 06:02:34 PM

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stromboli ... t/2382053/

QuoteWASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, a decision with both immediate benefits for some breast and ovarian cancer patients and long-lasting repercussions for biotechnology research.

The decision represents a victory for cancer patients, researchers and geneticists who claimed that a single company's patent raised costs, restricted research and sometimes forced women to have breasts or ovaries removed without sufficient facts or second opinions.

But the court held out a lifeline to Myriad Genetics, the company with an exclusive patent on the isolated form of genes that can foretell an increased genetic risk of cancer. The justices said it can patent a type of synthesized DNA that goes beyond extracting the genes from the body.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision for a unanimous court. "Myriad did not create anything," Thomas said. "To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention."

The decision will allow other scientists and laboratories to provide genetic diagnostic testing, now that the patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes themselves has been lifted. That should lead to lower costs and greater access.

"It is splendid news for patients, for physicians, for scientists and for common sense," Mary-Claire King, the geneticist who in 1990 discovered the abnormality on chromosome 17 that proved to be the breast cancer gene, told USA TODAY. "The marketplace will now be open."

Myriad emphasized the bright side of the decision for the company — that cDNA, which is not naturally occurring, remains patentable. As a result, it said, 24 patents containing more than 500 valid claims remain in effect.

"More than 250,000 patients rely upon our BRACAnalysis test annually, and we remain focused on saving and improving peoples' lives and lowering overall health care costs," said Peter Meldrum, the company's president and CEO.


The complex scientific case was perhaps the most important on the high court's calendar other than its more celebrated cases involving same-sex marriage, voting rights and affirmative action.

And unlike those cases, which are expected to divide the court sharply along ideological lines, the controversial concept of gene patenting gave all nine justices something to agree on.

The decision was based on past patent cases before the high court in which the justices ruled that forces of nature, as opposed to products of invention, are not patent-eligible.

"Jonas Salk once said that the polio vaccine could not be patented -- it belonged to the public," said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., a microbiologist and leader on genetic issues. "I am pleased the Supreme Court has applied this same standard to all genetic material."

A win overall for future genetic research and open market competition. SCOTUS did something right.


QuoteJustice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision for a unanimous court.

You know that you have done bad if you lose a 9-0 decision with this court.


It's like when apple tried to patent rectangles. :lol:
"The idea of getting a, y\'know, syringe full of heroin and shooting it in the vein under my cock right now seems like almost a productive act." -Bill Hicks



I am currently experiencing life at several WTFs per hour.


You mean I can't patent the small penis gene? I guess it'll have to remain in my jeans.. :oops:
All hail my new signature!

Admit it. You're secretly green with envy.


This is big news locally because Myriad is a Utah company. They are down playing the overall loss (the stock market has already downgraded their shares) because they still hold about 500 patents based on synthetic R/DNA. So they are not out of the picture by any means.


Quote from: "stromboli"A win overall for future genetic research and open market competition. SCOTUS did something right.
And a loss for the usual human stupidity that we've come to expect.
Afflicting the comfortable for 70 years.
Science builds skyscrapers, faith flies planes into them.


*spits tabakky*

does this mean I can't sell mah jeans on ebay?
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust