The Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that naturally occurring human genes can not be patented. All nine justices agreed that while naturally occurring D.N.A. cannot be patented, synthetic D.N.A. can. The case at hand involves Myriad Genetics, the company that patented the BCRA-1 and BCRA-2 genes, which indicate an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
The court's decision is considered a significant victory for cancer patients whose medication and treatment costs might go down as a result of this decision.
Robert Blackburn is a former Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel of Chiron Corporation, an American multinational biotechnology firm.