Digital News Report – Two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers were what Myriad Genetics Inc. and the University of Utah Research Foundation wanted to patent. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit a year ago against this patent on behalf of all cancer patients and women’s health groups because the patent had made the high-quality test for genetic breast cancer unavailable to patients.
On the one side pharmaceutical companies want to have exclusive rights and gain royalties for anytime a treatment is utilizing this gene. This is one way the fund and build their business and profit from it. On the other hand it creates a monopoly situation that can stagnate developments that could provide cheaper and more effective treatment options.
The US District Judge Robert Sweet ruled in favor of the UCLA saying that you can’t patent the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which are related to genetic breast cancer.
Myraid said that they have 23 patents that are related to the BRCA genes and this only involves one of them said Peter Meldrum to the Wall Street Journal.
According to a report in the New York Times, these kinds of patents have been given out for living organisms since 1980. The judge said the this particulart patent was thrown out because it involved the “law of nature” and the patent shouldn’t have been granted in the first place.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the free flow of ideas in scientific research,” said Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. “The human genome, like the structure of blood, air or water, was discovered, not created. There is an endless amount of information on genes that begs for further discovery, and gene patents put up unacceptable barriers to the free exchange of ideas.”