Genetics

No patent for genes

Print edition : July 12, 2013

A demonstration outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on April 15, demanding a ban on human genes patents. Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP

Computer artwork of a double-stranded DNA helix. Myriad had exclusive rights over the DNA sequences of the two naturally occurring genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie. Myriad Genetics Inc.'s popular breast cancer test caught the public attention after Angelina revealed that she had had a double mastectomy after learning that she had one of the gene mutations involved in the patents case. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

A landmark judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court ends Myriad Genetics Inc.’s exclusive rights over the DNA sequences of two genes, detection of whose mutations through diagnostic tests can reveal the risk of cancer in women. The court holds that merely isolating genes that are found in nature does not make them patentable.
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