Viewpoint: Congressional proposal to loosen court ruling that blocked companies from patenting genes could ‘stifle’ science innovation

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Image: Alexander Raths / Shutterstock

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of innovation when it struck down a patent that gave one company a stranglehold on genetic testing for a common breast cancer gene. Congress appears to be planning to undo that ruling, a move that would stifle scientific discovery and innovation and harm millions of Americans who need to understand their risks for hereditary cancer and other diseases.

While [Senator Chris] Coons has stated the proposal would not allow individual genes to be patented, the current draft is not clear on this point. The proposal, as written, would allow human genes and naturally occurring associations between diseases to be patented. These changes would create a chilling effect on research and hurt patients by increasing the cost of genetic testing and eliminating access to confirmatory genetic testing.

Our patent system works when it supports innovation, protects novel invention, and promotes competition. The current draft legislation would do the opposite. Most troubling, it would rob countless people of the opportunity to manage their genetic risk of cancer and other diseases.

Now is not the time to go backwards.

Read full, original post: Proposed patent legislation would block research, stifle innovation, and harm patients

Related article:  Viewpoint: Why CRISPR embryo editing is not ‘morally urgent’: No one has to have a child
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