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Human Gene Patent Case Goes to Supreme Court
Date:4/15/2013

ests," she added. As a result, consumers and hospitals pay more for tests and wait longer for the results, she said.

Whatever the ruling, the implications will be significant in terms of shaping laws governing biotechnology and medical innovations, one expert said.

"The intellectual framework that comes out of the decision could have a significant impact on other patents -- for antibiotics, vaccines, hormones, stem cells and diagnostics on infectious microbes that are found in nature," Robert Cook-Deegan, director for genome ethics, law and policy at Duke University, said in a statement, the AP reported.

"This could affect agricultural biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, green-tech, the use of organisms to produce alternative fuels and other applications," he explained.

Current research would come to a halt, others contend. Biotechnology Industry Organization said in a friend of the court brief that invalidating the current patent law "would chill a wide range of important activities that benefit society," according to The New York Times.

Others are less convinced that the ruling will have an enormous impact, especially since the Myriad patents will expire over the next two years. Dr. James Evans, a professor of genetics and medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told the Times that the significance of the nine justices' decision "will be much more ideological than it will be practical."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on genes and breast cancer.

SOURCES: Iuliana Shapira, M.D., director, cancer genetics, North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute, Lake Success, N.Y., and investigator, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.; Barbara R. Pober, M.D., professor, medical sciences, Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine, Quin
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