Patenting of Human Genes

Patents are issued for invention and not for discovery. Genes are present within every human. Isolating a gene from a human doesn’t make that an invention. If that’s the case then removing of liver, heart, pancreas could also be considered patentable. On June 13th the US Supreme Court made a judgment quoting that companies could not patent the naturally occurring genes. Myriad Genetics Inc., tried to patent these two well known genes linked to ovarian and breast cancer. A woman’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer increased if she inherits mutation in either of two tumor-suppressor genes. The court also ruled out that it cannot patent complementary DNA or cDNA.

Both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are found within every person, which means that it has not been invented by anyone and could not be classified as something which comes under patentable subject matter. But Myraid argued that they developed the technology to isolate the genes so they can patent them. The work Myraid done was it sorted all of the 20,000 genes and found two genes which are linked to ovarian and breast cancer. Myriad was arguing that they isolated the 2 genes after many complicated procedures which were not known to the world before. The Supreme Court ruled out Myriad’s claim telling that isolation of naturally occurring genes is not considered patentable. The decision came as a victory to cancer patients, researches that are of the opinion that if it was granted then it would have increased the research cost and cost of many cancer drugs.

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