Human Genes Can be Patented, Federal Court Rules

Still not sure how this is okay? Perhaps I don’t understand patent law or genetics enough, but how can you patent the human body?

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Myriad Genetics was entitled to patents on two human genes used to predict if women have a heightened risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Why the change in ruling? The court said that DNA isolated from the body was eligible to be patented because its chemical structure is “markedly different” than that of DNA inside chromosomes.

Because of this distinction, isolated DNA is not a product of nature and can be patented, according to the court’s ruling.

So it’s DNA that’s been isolated from the body first? You can read the entire document here (pdf).

It seems like this one will be headed to the Supreme Court, as thousands of isolated genes have been patented.

Andrew Cohen outlines the next steps at The Atlantic:

Its going to take at least a few more years for the Supreme Court to resolve this case — and it will take longer still for the courts to resolve the new cases cropping up in this area. The law always lags behind new science. In this case, the lag is costing lives.

Comments on this entry are closed.