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Supreme Court Will Decide Whether Companies Can Patent Human Genes

In an upcoming case, the Supreme Court must set a precedent to determine whether human genes can be patented. The decision will have far-reaching consequences for medicine and medical research based in human genetics. The case concerns Myriad Genetics Inc which is attempting to patent two genes linked to breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Myriad Genetics Inc Defends Validity of Gene Patents and Gene Analysis Patent

The previous ruling allowed Myriad Genetics to patent isolated genes, but not the company's method for analyzing genes. The appeal was pushed by the Association for Molecular Pathology as well as other medical organizations such as the American Society of Human Genetics, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the March of Dimes Foundation, the American Medical Association and the AARP.

American Civil Liberties Union is representing Association for Molecular Pathology et al

The American Civil Liberties Union is handling their case. ACLU lawyer Sandra Park says the appeal is important for the protection of medical care, medical research and the patient's right to access his or her own genetic information which can point to useful screens for hereditary diseases.

Myriad Genetics Claims Denying Patent Protection Will Hurt Access to Medical Care

Myriad Genetics and supporters claim that denying patent protection for genes and gene analyses will actually slow the growth of gene-based medicine. Myriad Genetics chief executive Peter Meldrum says that the company's genetic test has helped nearly a million people understand their risk for types of hereditary cancer. He says that the Supreme Court DNA testing decision could negatively affect people's access to medical care. According to Meldrum, the patenting process is necessary to attract financial investments in science and medical research.

Supreme Court Will Re-evaluate Patents for BRCA1, BRCA2 and BRACAnalysis Held by Myriad Genetics

The genes being pursued by Myriad Genetics are called BRCA1 and BRCA2, or breast cancer type one susceptibility protein and breast cancer type 2 susceptibility protein. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that code for enzymes that repair DNA, or in other words, they are members of the tumor suppressor gene family. Any hereditary disadvantage regarding tumor suppressor genes can reveal an increased risk of cancer. Myriad Genetics has created a genetic test called BRACAnalysis that can identify women who have an 82 percent increased risk of breast cancer and a 44 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Objections Raised Over Monopoly on Human Genetics

Critics of Myriad Genetics claim that the company's patents on BRCA1, BRCA2 and BRACAnalysis are illegal. They also restrict clinical testing, access to medical care and scientific research. The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision regarding Association for Molecular Pathology et al v. Myriad Genetics Inc et al by June of 2013.

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Derek is an active law blogger. When he is not blogging or working, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family. The article above is for court dna testing.

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