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Myriad sues companies for infringing on BRCA test patents

15 July 2013

By Ruth Retassie

Appeared in BioNews 713

Myriad Genetics is suing two other companies who are offering genetic tests for BRCA1 and BRAC2 gene mutations for patent infringement.

The claims were filed against Ambry Genetics and Gene by Gene in the Federal District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Myriad is located. Both companies started to offer diagnostic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA 2 mutations after the US Supreme Court ruling last month that invalidated Myriad's patents over the genes (reported in BioNews 709), but Myriad says they are infringing ten of the remaining patents it owns dealing with aspects of the test. It is seeking an injunction to stop the companies from offering the tests and also is claiming damages.

'They are clearly using the same processes we are using in our testing', Richard Marsh, executive vice president and general counsel of Myriad, told Bloomberg. 'They are infringing the claims of our patents in the way they are doing their testing'.

Myriad says it still holds more than 500 valid patents associated with the tests. Ronald Rogers, a spokesperson for Myriad, told Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News that last month's Supreme Court decision 'affirmed the patent eligibility of synthetic DNA and underscored the importance and applicability of method-of-use patents for gene-based diagnostic tests'.

Charles Dunlop, CEO of Ambry, based in South California, stated that the company would 'vigorously defend its position'.

'We have had an overwhelming response from our clients seeking an alternative laboratory to perform BRCA testing and Ambry is fully committed to supporting our clients and patients moving forward', he said.

DNATraits, a division of Texas-based Gene by Gene, announced it would offer genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes for $995 shortly after the Supreme Court's decision. In a press release, it said that prior to the ruling the costs for such genetic tests was around $4,000.

The New York Times reports that Myriad has said it will not impede non-commercial academic research or prevent labs from confirming results provided by Myriad. It says a number of companies started offering genetic tests after the ruling.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
New York Times | 10 July 2013
 
The Scientist | 11 July 2013
 
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News | 11 July 2013
 
Business Week | 10 July 2013
 

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