Patenting Human Genes

Should the Supreme Court uphold patents on human genes?


The Supreme Court is set to decide by the end of June a case challenging a Utah company's patents on two breast-cancer genes that can indicate heightened risks of breast or ovarian cancer. Myriad Genetics has used its gene patents to maintain a monopoly on the lucrative market for genetic testing among women worried about a family history of breast cancer. Backed by patent lawyers and other biotech firms, the company argues that gene-related patents provide financial incentives for medical research, but women's health advocates say Myriad's aggressive use of its patent rights has made it harder and more expensive for women to have genetic testing. The case drew added attention this month when the actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she had undergone a preventive ...

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