What Supreme Court’s Myriad decision means for biopharma companies

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On 13 June 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that certain patent claims owned by Myriad Genetics, the US biotech company that holds the patents covering a test for breast-cancer-related genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), are invalid as products of nature.

The court held that a naturally occurring DNA segment is ‘a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated, but cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring’.

Key to the decision was the finding that isolating DNA from the human genome does not change the chemical structure, nor does it alter the genetic information encoded in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In other words, the sequence and coding information is inherent in that gene, isolated or not…

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