Supreme Court Rules Human Genes Cannot Be Patented
The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that human genes isolated from the body cannot be patented. The decision involved the Utah-based company Myriad Genetics, which held patents on two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, that can indicate a woman’s risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. The court said that “a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature,” and that natural phenomena are not legally patentable.
The ruling is a victory for scientists and doctors who argue that patents interfere with research and medical care. Its impact on the biotechnology industry could be profound.
George Annas, Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights at BU’s School of Public Health.
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