02 February 2015
ByAppeared in BioNews 788
Myriad Genetics has settled litigation with competitors who had been using genetic testing for breast cancer genes. The molecular diagnostics company agreed with a number of companies not to proceed with claims for patent infringement in return for ceasing any outstanding counterclaims. It is in the process of reaching a settlement with those that are remaining.
Myriad was attempting to defend patents on genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that human genes were products of nature and could not be patented, invalidating some of Myriad's patent claims. However, the company attempted to enforce other patents against six competitors offering or about to offer genetic tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, including LabCorp, Invitae and Ambry Genetics. A number of these companies responded by issuing counter-claims against Myriad.
In December 2014 the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld an earlier decision to deny Myriad an injunction what would have prevented Ambry from selling the test. Since then, Myriad has approached other parties about settling the claims, including agreements not to start fresh claims under other existing patents.
Ronald Rogers, spokesman for the company, said that after December's ruling 'we decided it was in the best interest of the company to settle these matters'.
Myriad is developing new types of test to reduce its reliance on the BCRA test, including a more comprehensive test of 25 genes linked to cancer risk.