Can a company own your genes? A compromise decision has been made by the Supreme Court. If the gene occurs naturally in nature, such as HUMAN DNA, it cannot be patented. If it is synthetic, it CAN be patented.
Supreme Court makes decision in genes patent case
updated 10:31 AM EDT, Thu June 13, 2013
(CNN) — The Supreme Court has made a decision in a case examining whether human genes are patentable. Details of the ruling are expected shortly.
The case involves Utah-based company Myriad Genetics, which was sued over its claim of patents relating to two types of biological material that it identified — BCRA-1 and BCRA-2, whose mutations are linked to increased hereditary risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
Since Myriad owns the patent on breast cancer genes, it is the only company that can perform tests for potential abnormalities.
At issue is whether “products of nature” can be treated the same as “human-made” inventions, allowing them to be held as the exclusive intellectual property of individuals and companies.
On one side, scientists and companies argue patents encourage medical innovation and investment that saves lives. On the other, patient rights groups and civil libertarians counter the patent holders are “holding hostage” the diagnostic care and access of information available to high-risk patients.
The high court has long allowed patent protection for the creation of a new process or use for natural products. Whether “isolating” or “extracting” genes themselves qualifies for such protection is now the issue.”
On a personal note, I recently read the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This story personalized the scientific development behind todays capabilities. From Amazon: