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U.S. Supreme Court Invalidates Patents on Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genes
Date:6/13/2013

, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas … are basic tools of scientific and technological work” that lie beyond patent protection, wrote Justice Clarence Thomas on behalf of all justices. Justice Antonio Scalia did file a short concurrence stating that he cannot sign on to the discussion relating to the finer details of biology. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-398_8njq.pdf

However, the Court also ruled that cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring. Some cDNA patents may not be patent eligible where the cDNA is indistinguishable from natural DNA. The Court expresses no opinion on whether cDNA is otherwise patentable.

“The restriction of research on these genes has violated time-honored principles of free exchange of information in the areas of scientific inquiry,” Dr. Kroft said.

Additionally as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, laboratories nationwide can provide more genetic testing and patient diagnosis by pathologists that will inevitably lead to new developments in genetic research. This allows for greater possibility for improved screening for breast and ovarian cancer. The earlier detection will improve patient outcomes, resulting in fewer deaths for patients. Now patients can obtain a second opinion, which Myriad Genetics has not allowed.

Genetic testing can be developed that screens multiple genes for certain conditions, giving patients and pathologists a better understanding of how genetic factors might affect diagnoses and treatment.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two of 23,000 genes in the human genome. Up to 2.5 percent of all women in the United States have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which results in a 50- to 90-percent lifetime risk for breast cancer and a 25- to 50-percent risk for ovarian cancer. This compares to an average women’s lifetime risk of 12.2 percent for brea
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