Doctors and Patients ask Supreme Court to Disallow Patents of Cancer-Related Genes
Opponents of human-gene patents are taking another crack at the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to nullify the biotechnology industry’s effort to make money off human DNA.
A group of doctors, researchers and cancer patients filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to review the case of Myriad Genetics, which owns two patents associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
The company has used the patents to perform genetic tests and tell patients whether they are at risk of contracting the diseases.
The plaintiffs claim the patents “exclude the rest of the scientific community” from utilizing the genes for testing and research. Therefore, the court should throw out Myriad’s ownership of the genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, according to the plaintiffs.
The petitioners in the case include the Association for Molecular Pathology, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the College of American Pathologists and the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. In addition to Myriad Genetics, the respondents include the directors of the University of Utah Research Foundation.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) previously sued to nullify the patents. It won its first case in district court, but lost on appeal. The ACLU then requested the Supreme Court to review the case, but the justices refused and ordered the appeals court to rehear the case, which resulted in Myriad keeping its patents.
Groups Ask High Court to Invalidate Gene Patents (by Julia Filip, Courthouse News Service)
The Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics (U.S. Supreme Court) (pdf)
Federal Court Again Rules that Genes Can be Patented (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
20% of Our Genes are Already Patented by Private Companies (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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