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Federal Court Rules it is Illegal to Patent Unaltered Human Genes
Written by Daniel   
Friday, 02 April 2010 18:15

From Daily Tech

Federal Court Rules it is Illegal to Patent Unaltered Human Genes

A U.S. Federal Court ruled this week that unaltered human genes are products of nature and not patentable. It revoked the patents on breast cancer genes held by Myriad Genetics. 

Until now, Myriad Genetics "owned" the human breast cancer genes. It blocked competitors from developing tests for commonly occurring variants of the genes, essentially preventing patients from getting a second opinion.  (Source: Think Gene)
ACLU triumphs over Myriad Genetics, but future legal challenges are likely forthcoming

A court decision this week may at last spell the end to companies' rights to claim ownership of your genes.  However, the story started long ago in the biotechnology industry's nascent days in the year 1980.

The 1980 U.S. Supreme Court Decision Diamond v. Chakrabarty was among the most important legal precedents of the last two decades of the previous millennia.  While it will never enjoy the instant recognition of a case like Roe v Wade or Brown v Board of Education, the case was among the most important commercial and medical decisions in modern history.

It ruled that "organisms" made from human DNA were patentable if they were "man-made" -- produced by human processes.  This was interpreted, over time, to mean that genes of organisms could be patented, granting the holder exclusive ownership of that gene.    [More...] [Comments...]


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