Are Human Genes Patentable?

Astronomy and Law

The U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to consider whether human genes may be patented. The case, Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, involves specific genes linked to an increase risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

The question before the Supreme Court is whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that are ineligible for patent protection or products of human intervention and ingenuity. Not surprisingly, the issue elicits strong opinions on both sides of the argument.

Myriad argues that the isolated genes “were created by humans, do not occur in nature and have new and significant utilities not found in nature.” Meanwhile, the plaintiffs, who are supported by groups like the American Medical Association, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and the March of Dimes Foundation, argue that the patents will hamper scientific research and restrict access to medical care. “Myriad and other gene patent holders have gained the right…

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