DNA Composition Claim in the US

(By George Wu) Last year, I wrote an article entitled “Can Genes Be Patented?” referring – at that time – to the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision.  The following article is a summary of the prior history and the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the patenting of DNA.

From the 1980s, scientists from around the world started to search for specific genes that were associated with increased hereditary risk for breast cancer.  By 1990, two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, were discovered that if they had specific mutations/alleles would impart an increased risk for breast cancer in women.

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Can Genes Be Patented?

(by George Wu) About two weeks ago on April 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments concerning the matter of patenting of genes.  Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah are the owners of several patents related to the isolated human BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  Particular sequences of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes predispose women to early-onset of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.  The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) and several other parties are challenging the validity of these patents.

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