Those of us who have been waiting with bated breath for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on gene patents in the case of Myriad can now exhale. The Court issued its opinion this morning, in which, as we predicted, they held that cDNA is patentable subject matter, but “isolated DNA” derived from genomic DNA is not patentable.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the much-publicized gene patenting case AMP v. Myriad Genetics. Myriad and the University of Utah own several patents directed to isolated gene sequences for mutations in the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, as well as methods of using the same for predicting risk of breast cancer. AMP is seeking to invalidate these patents for claiming inventions that are not patentable subject matter, i.e. merely products of nature, which should not be restricted from widespread use. Myriad maintains that since the patents are for isolated gene sequences, they do not cover genes as naturally occurring within the body, and therefore are not overly restrictive and should properly be the subject of patent protection.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics case. As noted in our previous posts, this case deals with whether patent claims directed to "isolated DNA sequences" are patent eligible subject matter under the patent laws, in connection with the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes involved in breast cancer.