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Lawsuit over human-gene patents goes to court

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A first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Salt Lake City-based Myriad Genetics, which holds patents to human genes known to detect early signs of breast and ovarian cancer, is heading to trial, reports Wired.

As U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet of New York noted in his ruling yesterday, the lawsuit is of great importance to patients, researchers and private companies and academic institutions that have exclusive rights to genes:

The challenges to the patents-in-suit raise questions of difficult legal dimensions concerning constitutional protections over the information that serves as our genetic identities and the need to adopt policies that promote scientific innovation and biomedical research. The widespread use of gene sequence information as the foundation for biomedical research means that resolution of these issues will have far-reaching implications, not only for gene-based health care and the health of millions of women facing the specter of breast cancer, but also for the future course of biomedical research.

Approximately 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the U.S., according to the most recent data available.

Photo by Mash DnArt

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