Gene patents at risk

A Federal court has thrown out Myriad Genetics’ patents on tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, risk factors in breast and ovarian cancer:

Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were improperly granted because they involved a law of nature. He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable a lawyers trick that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.

That’s huge and surprising news for the biotech industry. Probably it benefits companies positioned to do genome-wide tests of various kinds, which due to the advance of technology are presently much cheaper than Myriad has been charging for its tests.