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Supreme Court Strikes Down Gene Patents

The Supreme Court’s decision in June that genes can’t be patented has far-reaching consequences for research and medicine — and for every one of us.

RELATED TAGS: GENES & HEALTH, GENETICS

The patent Myriad Genetics filed in 1994, laying claim to the DNA sequence of the gene BRCA1, wasn’t remarkable. It was one in a long line of some 40,000 patents on DNA molecules awarded in the past three decades, covering more than 20 percent of human genes.

But that patent took on a new importance last summer, when the Supreme Court ruled that it and untold numbers of other DNA patents are invalid because naturally occurring DNA sequences cannot be patented. The decision has had immediate benefits for researchers and doctors, but creates new worries for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries...

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