The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, a decision that could shape the future of medical and genetic research and have profound effects on pharmaceuticals and agriculture.
The ruling was a split decision for Myriad Genetics Inc., which holds patents on genes that have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court, said that merely isolating those specific genes — called BRCA1 and BRCA2 — was not worthy of a patent.
“Myriad found the location of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, but that discovery, by itself, does not render the BRCA genes . . . patent eligible,” Thomas wrote.
On the other hand, Thomas wrote, Myriad’s creation of a synthetic form of DNA — called cDNA — based on its discovery does deserve patent protection.
“The lab technician creates something new when cDNA is made,” Thomas wrote.
Written By: Robert Barnescontinue to source article at washingtonpost.com