Supreme Court to Decide If Human Genes Can Be Patented

Article excerpt

Byline: Associated Press

WASHINGTON The Supreme Court announced Friday it will decide whether companies can patent human genes, a decision that could reshape medical research in the United States and the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer.

The justices decision will likely resolve an ongoing battle between scientists who believe that genes carrying the secrets of life should not be exploited for commercial gain and companies that argue that a patent is a reward for years of expensive research that moves science forward.

The current case involves Myriad Genetics Inc. of Salt Lake City, which has patents on two genes linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Myriads BRACAnalysis test looks for mutations on the breast cancer predisposition gene, or BRCA. Those mutations are associated with much greater risks of breast and ovarian cancer.

But the American Civil Liberties Union challenged those patents, arguing that genes couldnt be patented, and in March 2010, a New York district court agreed. …