The Supreme Court is to hear Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. in 2013.
This case is about whether human isolated genes can be patented. Myriad genetics isolated two breast cancer related genes, BRCA or BRCA1-2, which have been correlated to increase the susceptibility of breast cancer.
Myriad created genetic testing at a costly price and prevented other companies and health practitioners from providing genetic testing, citing patent infringement.
The research community is concerned as to the effect gene patents will have on the growth and development of medical research, as well as the accessibility of lifesaving cancer screening tests that rely on the use of patented genes.
Genes that are isolated from organisms and from the human body are considered part of a public domain. They are not genetically modified genes that have been created, rather they are isolates from the human genome.
This case could have a far reaching impact on mandating specific type of genetic testing which would be out of reach for the general at risk cancer population if one company could cite patent infringement for patenting a component of the human genome.