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.