A Manhattan judge ruled Monday that two genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are “the law of nature,” thereby nullifying seven patents by Myriad Genetics of Utah. Prior to the decision, women wishing to be tested for the indicators would have had to consult with the patent holder—at a cost of $3,000—but now the monopoly no longer applies.
Myriad argued that while isolating BRCA1 and BRCA2in its labs, it created chemicals that don’t exist in nature, but the judge didn’t buy that rationale, reports the Times. “It is the sequence created by nature that is the entire point of the gene,” Myles Jackson, a professor at Polytechnic Institute, wrote in a court submission. One of the plaintiffs in the case, Dr. Wendy Chung, called the ruling “a game changer,” considering that for-profit institutions and researchers have already laid claim to about 20 percent of the human genome, more than 4,300 genes in total.
Keep an eye on this case.