Human-gene patent ruling could force biotechs to focus on synthetic alternatives

06/17/2013 | Chemical & Engineering News

The Supreme Court ruled last week that naturally occurring human genes can't be patented, but it upheld the right of Myriad Genetics to patent its synthetic complementary DNA. With patents already granted on an estimated 4,000 human genes, the biotech industry expressed concern that the ruling could negatively impact billions of dollars already invested. "While the ruling reinforces the law of nature restriction on patentability, it leaves open various pathways for biotech companies -- both in terms of methods of use and cDNA and, perhaps more generally, in applying the knowledge gained as a result of isolating particular genes," says Kenneth Schuler of Latham & Watkins.

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