The courts are finally reviewing the absurd notion that my genes (and yours) can be patented.

The moneyed interests, and their attorneys, would have it that genes are patentable. And I’m afraid the current Supreme Court make-up is such that they will ultimately rule in their favor. But the way I read it, these patents on what’s in every cell of our bodies ought not hold water.

The Salt Lake Tribune has a news report summarizing the recent lawsuit against Myriad Genetics by the ACLU and others,

that challenges the Utah company’s patents related to genes that are linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

A judge will rule on

whether such patents are proper under U.S. law and comply with the U.S. Constitution.

The report explains that

The ACLU and the patent foundation say Myriad’s refusal to broadly allow others to research the genes has meant that women who fear they may be at risk of breast or ovarian cancer are prevented from having anyone but Myriad look at the genes in question. They also contend that development of treatments are being restricted.

Patents aren’t allowed for rules of nature, natural phenomena or abstract ideas, although the Patent and Trade Office has said genes can be patented if they are “isolated from their natural state and purified.”

Myriad, a publicly traded company, charges up to $3,000 for a test that can identify whether a woman has genetic mutations that indicate an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. On Wednesday, the company reported its profits increased 67 percent, to $35.4 million, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31.

The expectation is that there will be an appeal of whatever the judge decides, so stay tuned.


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