Implications loom large in human gene patent case before US Supreme Court (w/ video)

Apr 12, 2013

A human gene patenting case before the U.S. Supreme Court next week could have major implications for biotechnology research and the public interest in the nation's patent system, according to a University of Michigan expert.

Shobita Parthasarathy, associate professor at the Ford School of Public Policy, whose expert declaration on behalf of the plaintiffs was heavily cited by the district court that initially reviewed the case, says that major issues at stake include the basic question of whether are considered products of nature.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"If they are, then according to the U.S. law, they can't be patented," she said. "In addition, there are major policy issues at stake. As the patent system has grown, it has become clear that it has mixed results for innovation, for society, for our values and for the economy."

The case began in 2009 when a coalition of scientists, physicians and patient advocacy groups represented by the filed suit against biotech company Myriad Genetics and the U.S. , challenging the patentability of genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

These groups alleged that Myriad's patents are invalid under Supreme Court precedent because they are "products of nature" and that they limit patient access to testing, increase health care costs, jeopardize testing quality, interfere with and privatize what once were public goods.

"In the breast cancer case, for example, a gene patent allows one company to control all genetic testing for in the United States," Parthasarathy said.

"What I hope is that we've started an ongoing discussion about how the serves the public interest because this is only one out of many controversies that are going on regarding patents on life-forms, patents on essential medicines and patents on information and communication technologies like the iPad."

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case on April 15. Parthasarathy expects to attend and is available for media interviews before or after the session.

Explore further: Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

High court throws out human gene patents

Mar 26, 2012

(AP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a lower court ruling allowing human genes to be patented, a topic of enormous interest to cancer researchers, patients and drug makers.

US court to decide if human genes can be patented

Nov 30, 2012

The Supreme Court announced Friday it will decide whether companies can patent human genes, a decision that could reshape medical research in the United States and the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer.

Myriad can patent breast cancer genes: US court

Jul 30, 2011

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of Myriad Genetics after a legal battle over whether the US company could keep its patent on genes linked to an inherited form of breast cancer.

US judge strikes down patent on cancer genes

Mar 29, 2010

(AP) -- In a ruling with potentially far-reaching implications for the patenting of human genes, a judge on Monday struck down a company's patents on two genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Recommended for you

Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

Nov 21, 2014

Worldwide, drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high soil saline content all have negative effects on tomato crops. These natural processes reduce soil nutrient content and lifespan, result in reduced plant growth ...

Plant immunity comes at a price

Nov 21, 2014

Plants are under permanent attack by a multitude of pathogens. To win the battle against fungi, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, they have developed a complex and effective immune system. And just as ...

Evolution: The genetic connivances of digits and genitals

Nov 20, 2014

During the development of mammals, the growth and organization of digits are orchestrated by Hox genes, which are activated very early in precise regions of the embryo. These "architect genes" are themselves regulated by ...

Surrogate sushi: Japan biotech for bluefin tuna

Nov 20, 2014

Of all the overfished fish in the seas, luscious, fatty bluefin tuna are among the most threatened. Marine scientist Goro Yamazaki, who is known in this seaside community as "Young Mr. Fish," is working to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.