U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Orders Federal Circuit to Reconsider Ruling Allowing Gene Patents


The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered reconsideration of an appellate decision allowing patents on isolated human genes.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was told to reconsider based on Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories Inc., a Supreme Court decision last week that struck down a lab’s patents on blood tests used to determine correct drug dosages. The Supreme Court decision by Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the patents were invalid because they are based on the laws of nature.

The case that will be reconsidered is Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, report the New York Times and Bloomberg News. The Federal Circuit decision had upheld Myriad Genetics’ patents on two genes associated with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The appellate court had found DNA isolated from the body is “markedly different” from DNA inside chromosomes. As a result, the DNA is not a product of nature that is ineligible for patent protection.

According to Bloomberg, “The Myriad case pits the biotechnology industry, which supports gene patents, against an array of opponents—including doctors, researchers and patients—who say gene patents will stifle innovation and improperly permit a monopoly on part of the human body.”

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