Patents On Genes Ruled Unconstitutional

Friday, June 14, 2013

The words "Equal Justice Under Law" are inscribed on the front of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Niel R/flickr)

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that human genes cannot be patented, but synthetic DNA is still patentable.

The case was brought against Myriad Genetics, which owned patents on two naturally occurring genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer. Those patents allowed the company to exclusively administer breast cancer tests and set the price. According to the plaintiffs, they set the price too high.

Sandra Park, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, explains.


Sandra Park

Produced by:

Tyler Adams

Comments [2]

Dale from Brooklyn, NY

Sandra didn't really address your question John when you asked about synthetic genes getting back into the human genome. But I suspect that is where the earlier Monsanto soybean case has set a precedent. The progeny of anyone that receives gene treatment that uses synthetic genes to improve their health, may just have to pay a company like Monsanto royalties for using their patented genes that made it into our genome. I think it will be a case of the future.

Jun. 15 2013 10:23 AM
Angel from Miami FL

I first heard this on a TV news show about a man who had a gene that made him immune to AIDS. Some company had patented that gene. So it became illegal for any other company to do research on that gene and possibly find the cure to AIDS. I guess the R&D on AIDS and HIV can go back to being hindered by lack of interest and funding.

Jun. 14 2013 09:43 AM

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