Supreme Court rules that human genes can't be patented - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Supreme Court rules that human genes can't be patented

Updated: June 13, 2013 03:02 PM EDT
  • HealthMore>>

  • A little wine might help kidneys stay healthy

    A little wine might help kidneys stay healthy

    An occasional glass of wine might help keep your kidneys healthy, new research suggests.More >>
    An occasional glass of wine might help keep your kidneys healthy, new research suggests.More >>
  • People seek out health info when famous person dies

    People seek out health info when famous person dies

    WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The deaths of well-known people offer an opportunity to educate the general public about disease detection and prevention, a new study suggests. Researchers surveyed 1,400 American men and women after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011 and learned that more than one-third of them sought information about his cause of death or information about cancer in general soon after his death was reported. About 7 percent of th...More >>
    WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The deaths of well-known people offer an opportunity to educate the general public about disease detection and prevention, a new study suggests. Researchers surveyed 1,400 American men and women after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011 and learned that more than one-third of them sought information about his cause of death or information about cancer in general soon after his death was reported. About 7 percent of th...More >>
  • Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>
    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>
  • HealthMore>>

  • People seek out health info when famous person dies

    People seek out health info when famous person dies

    WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The deaths of well-known people offer an opportunity to educate the general public about disease detection and prevention, a new study suggests. Researchers surveyed 1,400 American men and women after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011 and learned that more than one-third of them sought information about his cause of death or information about cancer in general soon after his death was reported. About 7 percent of th...More >>
    WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The deaths of well-known people offer an opportunity to educate the general public about disease detection and prevention, a new study suggests. Researchers surveyed 1,400 American men and women after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011 and learned that more than one-third of them sought information about his cause of death or information about cancer in general soon after his death was reported. About 7 percent of th...More >>
  • A little wine might help kidneys stay healthy

    A little wine might help kidneys stay healthy

    An occasional glass of wine might help keep your kidneys healthy, new research suggests.More >>
    An occasional glass of wine might help keep your kidneys healthy, new research suggests.More >>
  • Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>
    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>

THURSDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- In a decision that could have far-reaching implications for medicine, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that human genes cannot be patented.

The ruling could be a blow to drug companies such as Myriad Genetics, whose effort to patent an isolated form of a gene that might foretell cancer risk was at the center of the case. The high court decided that, unlike drugs or medical devices, human genes are not "created" by companies and therefore cannot be patented, USA Today reported.

"Myriad did not create anything," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the unanimous decision. "To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention."

Still, the justices did say that Myriad or companies like it might be able to patent forms of DNA that were not simply extracted from genes taken from the human body.

According to USA Today, the judges' nine-to-zero decision was in line with past decisions that have ruled that forces of nature are not patent-eligible, while products of human invention are.

The decision may have a profound impact on the bottom line of companies that sell genetic tests. According to USA Today, more than 40,000 patents linked to genetic material have been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since 1984. Myriad's gene tests for breast and ovarian cancer risk have been used by almost 1 million women since the late 1990s.

But the newspaper noted that these tests aren't cheap: it costs $3,340 for the breast cancer gene analysis, for example.

As is usual in cases over patents, Myriad and industry representatives have long argued that losing patent protection would lead to less investment in research and development.

On the other side, doctors and patient advocacy groups say loss of patent protection for gene-based products would free up competition, drive prices down and lead to more research and development, not less.

In a statement released earlier this week, the National Society of Genetic Counselors, argued against the patenting of genes.

"Exclusive licenses on patents create barriers that could stifle the development of innovative tests by restricting the access of researchers to gene sequences," the group said, "or requiring researchers to pay exorbitant licensure costs that will ultimately be passed on to the consumer."

An advocacy group for patients with ovarian cancer agreed.

"Many women we work with are concerned about their genetic risk of developing ovarian cancer, especially in the wake of Angelina's Jolie's announcement that she carries the BRCA1 mutation," Calaneet Balas, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, said in a statement. "Myriad's patent limited women's options for learning about their genetic risk."

The Supreme Court agreed that a gene is a preexisting entity that is not subject to patent.

"In isolation, it has no value, it's just nature sitting there," Justice Sonia Sotamayor said, USA Today reported.

More information

To find out more about genes, head to the Human Genome Project.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow