Supreme Court says natural human genes can’t be patented


Erin McClam
NBC News
June 13, 2013

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that natural human genes cannot be patented by companies, but it said that synthetically produced genetic material can — a mixed ruling for the biotechnology industry.

A naturally occurring piece of DNA is “a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated,” the court said.

The case centered on a Salt Lake City company called Myriad Genetics that was granted patents for isolating two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, that indicate a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The company now markets tests for those genes.

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