In a long-awaited decision June 13, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Association for Molecular Pathology et al v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. et al that DNA and genes that are found in the human body and merely “isolated,” are not eligible for patenting, while synthetic DNA, known as cDNA, could be eligible for patenting.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Myriad is likely to lower some medical research costs for life science companies, while still affording such companies patent protection needed to justify investments in such research. As such, many medical professionals and researchers view the Court’s ruling that isolated genes are unpatentable as positive. They can now generally isolate genes, study their effects, and detect harmful genes in the human body without the same concerns over infringing patents as before.
On the other hand, various claims of the Myriad patents at issue, including certain method claims related to the breast cancer genes, remain patentable despite the Court’s decision, as were cDNA compositions necessary to create tests and therapies that fight a gene’s harmful effects. Thus, the Court’s ruling lowers research costs while preserving incentives for investment into research for gene therapy.