Supreme court limits gene patents in mixed ruling

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DNA samples from New York terrorism victims lie in a locked cold storage cabinet at Myriad Genetics in Salt Lake City. (Douglas C. Pizac/AP Photo, via Bloomberg)

The following is an excerpt.

The U.S. Supreme Court restricted the ability of companies to patent human genetic sequences, issuing a mixed ruling in a case that raised questions about thousands of biotechnology, agricultural and drug patents.

The justices unanimously ruled that parts of Myriad Genetics Inc. (MYGN)’s patents on genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer improperly covered natural phenomena. Other parts, the court said, involve enough human intervention to be eligible for legal protection.

The decision left both sides of the debate claiming victory. It forces a change at the federal patent office, which has been awarding gene patents since 1982. That’s a victory for doctors’ groups and patient advocates that accused Myriad of using its patents to block clinical testing and research.
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