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US Supreme Court may have to settle dispute over patenting DNA sequences

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6187 (Published 27 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6187
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

The US Supreme Court may be asked to rule whether isolated sequences of DNA can be patented, in a challenge to a controversial patent conferring a US monopoly on testing for gene mutations that increase women’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation brought the lawsuit in 2009, together with the Association for Molecular Pathology, doctors’ organisations, patient advocacy groups, and individual doctors and patients. They argued that patents covering the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, granted in 1998 to the biotechnology firm Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah, were unlawful and …

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