Year in Review: High court rules against gene patents | Science News

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Year in Review: High court rules against gene patents

Justices open way for choices in DNA testing

7:00am, December 23, 2013


A Supreme Court decision in June to strike down a company’s patent on genes linked to breast cancer could have far-reaching consequences for biotechnology and medical research.

In a rare unanimous decision, the justices ruled that naturally occurring genes may not be patented. That ruling came in a case in which many scientists, activist groups and others sued Myriad Genetics. That company had previously patented the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. When mutated, those genes can greatly increase the risk of breast cancer.

Myriad’s patent gave that company the exclusive right to conduct tests based on those two genes. The court’s decision means that Myriad’s patent

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