Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews


Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook







Myriad Genetics breast cancer gene patent ruling sent back to lower court

02 April 2012

By Dr Sarah Spain

Appeared in BioNews 651

The US Supreme Court has ordered that the two gene patents held by Myriad Genetics be sent back to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, to be re-examined.

Myriad Genetics has held patents for two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, since 1994. Mutations in these genes are associated with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and the patents give the company exclusive rights to test for them. The test, called BRACAnalysis, costs around $3,000 per patient.

In 2009, the Public Patent Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union and the Association for Molecular Pathology filed a lawsuit against Myriad genetics, claiming that the patents violate patent law as they cover natural phenomena, and restrict scientific research and patients' access to medical care.

In 2010 a federal judge in New York ruled that genes cannot be patented, but this was overturned in July 2011 by the Court of Appeals, who also ruled that Myriad's technique for screening potential therapies was patentable.

The latest instalment of this long-running case came on 26 March, following a contradictory decision in a related case, where the Supreme Court denied Nestlé's Prometheus Laboratories' patents of biomarkers that help calibrate drug dosage. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that inventors must do more than 'recite a law of nature and then add the instruction "apply the law"'.

'A unanimous Supreme Court has now undeniably declared that a trivial noninventive transformation' is insufficient for a patent, Daniel Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation and co-counsel in the lawsuit, told the New York Times. He said that, as isolating DNA is a trivial, well-understood process, this new ruling contradicts the appellate court's decision to uphold Myriad's patents.

However, others doubt it will have that much influence, as the Myriad patents involve both composition-of-matter and process claims, while the Prometheus case only involves process claims.

According to an interview with Reuters, Junaid Husain, a research analyst for Dougherty & Co, said the choice to send the case back to the Appeal Court to be reheard could delay the verdict by another 'two to three years, keeping the BRACAnalysis franchise safe from competition'. This may explain why shares in Myriad rose over three percent following the decision.

The case is the Association for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics, No. 11-725.

 

SOURCES & REFERENCES
The Scientist | 28 March 2012
 
New York Times | 26 March 2012
 
GEN | 26 March 2012
 
Reuters | 26 March 2012
 
Wall Street Journal | 26 March 2012
 
Bloomberg | 26 March 2012
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

17 June 2013 - by Dr Sarah Spain 
The US Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a number of patent claims made by Myriad Genetics on isolated forms of two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.... [Read More]
18 February 2013 - by Matthew Thomas 
A patent over a gene linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers is valid, an Australian federal court has ruled in a landmark case.... [Read More]
05 November 2012 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A group of academics has accused Myriad Genetics, the US biotech company that holds patents over the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic tests for increased risk of breast cancer, of keeping secret clinical data obtained from the tests by saying the information is commercially sensitive... [Read More]
01 October 2012 - by Ruth Saunders 
The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the US Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to uphold the patent held by Myriad Genetics on two human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancers... [Read More]
20 August 2012 - by Dr Sarah Spain 
In the latest instalment of a highly contested case, the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington DC upheld Myriad Genetics' right to patent two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2,which are associated with the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.... [Read More]

27 February 2012 - by Luciana Strait 
A new genetic mutation linked to a greater risk of developing breast cancer has been shown to interact with the well-known breast cancer-causing gene BRCA1... [Read More]
23 January 2012 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
Myriad Genetics, a leading US molecular diagnostic company, has been granted exclusive rights to an analysis of the RAD51C gene. Mutations of the gene have been associated with an increased risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and the company now hopes to develop a commercial test for RAD51C.... [Read More]
08 November 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has weighed in on the complex issue of gene patenting against the principle that genes should be eligible for patent protection, reversing the government's position on the matter and causing consternation for many biotechnology companies. This week it issued a legal brief as a 'friend of the court' joining a lawsuit challenging the rights of companies to patent genetic technologies.... [Read More]
14 June 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The Australian Federal Court in Sydney is considering groundbreaking legal action of whether private companies can obtain patents on human genes.... [Read More]
06 April 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
A US judge has invalidated a genetic testing company's patents on two breast cancer genes... [Read More]

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

 


 

- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
PET CONFERENCE
COMMERCIALISATION OF LIFE


Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London and speaker at the Progress Educational Trust's conference 'The Commercialisation of Life', taking place in central London on Tuesday 2 December

London, 2 December
Click HERE for details

FREE EVENT
GENOMIC MEDICINE NEEDS YOU


'Genomic Medicine Needs You - Do You Need Genomic Medicine?', a FREE public event being organised by the Progress Educational Trust in central Oxford on the evening of Thursday 16 October 2014

Oxford, 16 October
Click HERE for details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE, and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation