In a first of its kind ruling on human genes, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday decided that synthetically produced genetic material can be patented but naturally occurring DNA extracted from the human body cannot.
The nine justices handed a partial victory to Salt Lake City, Utah-based biotechnology company Myriad Genetics Inc, which holds the patents in question. But the rights group that challenged the patents also found reason to be pleased.
The biotechnology industry had warned that an expansive ruling against Myriad could threaten billions of dollars of investment.
The contentious, uniquely 21st century question before the court was whether any human genes can ever be patented - meaning the holders have exclusive rights to their intellectual property for a defined period.
The court, in an opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled that a synthetically produced genetic material made by scientists, known as cDNA, can be patented but that genes extracted from the human body, known as isolated DNA, do not merit the same legal protections.
The compromise outcome, which was urged by the Obama administration, will have less impact on Myriad. The Myriad patents in dispute will all expire by 2015.
Myriad’s shares jumped 10 percent to $37.47 after the ruling was issued.
The ruling means some of Myriad’s patents involving cDNA will likely survive, but the parties disagreed on that point.
The case arose when a group of medical researchers, associations and patients - represented by the American Civil Liberties Union - filed suit in 2009, saying human genes, including synthetically produced material, should not be patented.
They challenged seven patents owned by or licensed to Myriad on two genes - called BRCA1 and BRCA2 - linked to breast and ovarian cancer. A federal judge said the patents were invalid. An appeals court overruled that decision, and the case landed at the Supreme Court.
"Today, the court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation," said Sandra Park of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. "Myriad did not invent the BRCA genes and should not control them. Because of this ruling, patients will have greater access to genetic testing and scientists can engage in research on these genes without fear of being sued."
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents on at least 4,000 human genes to companies, universities and others that have discovered and decoded them. Patents now cover some 40 percent of the human genome, according to one study.
Sand Pirates: ISIS Are America’s 21st Century Terrorist Privateers 2014 11 01 What is ISIS? If you believe govt and corporate propaganda, you still think that ISIS is a grassroots Islamic ideological movement ¨C and with no connection to intelligence agencies like America¡¯s CIA, Britain¡¯s MI6, Turkish (NATO) intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Israeli intelligence, or Pakistan¡¯s ISI.
The reality of ISIS is something altogether different¡
On closer inspection, these marauding paramilitary ISIS gangs are nothing ...
Ancient Stone Circles in Mideast Baffle Archaeologists 2014 11 01 Huge stone circles in the Middle East have been imaged from above, revealing details of structures that have been shrouded in mystery for decades.
The Big Circle called J1 is about 390 meters (1,280 feet) in diameter, with an open area created by bulldozing in its interior.
Credit: David L. Kennedy, copyright is retained by the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology ...
Sweden Recognizes Palestinian State; Israel Upset 2014 10 31
Sweden on Thursday became the biggest Western European country to recognize a Palestinian state, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm.
The move by Sweden’s new left-leaning government reflects growing international impatience with Israel’s nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. It also comes during increased ...
Fed-Backed Study: How to Brainwash Public into Fearing “Climate Change” Like Ebola 2014 10 31
$84K study seeks ways to make public fear "climate change and overpopulation"
The National Science Foundation is funding a study to determine how to brainwash the public into fearing “climate change and overpopulation” as if they were Ebola.
The NSF awarded an $84,000 grant to researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo yesterday to figure out how to make ...
Brain decoder can eavesdrop on your inner voice 2014 10 31
As you read this, your neurons are firing – that brain activity can now be decoded to reveal the silent words in your head
TALKING to yourself used to be a strictly private pastime. That’s no longer the case – researchers have eavesdropped on our internal monologue for the first time. The achievement is a step towards helping people who cannot ...