SUCCESS! The Supreme Court has ruled this morning in an unanimous ruling that human genes CANNOT be patented.
This is a big deal for the breast cancer prevention community because it will result in affordable genetic testing, including for BRCA variants that indicate increased breast cancer risk. The particular genes at issue received public attention after the actress Angelina Jolie revealed in May that she had had a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she had inherited a faulty copy of a gene that put her at high risk for breast cancer. The price of the test, often more than $3,000, was partly a product of Myriad’s patent, putting it out of reach for some women.
The case concerned patents held by Myriad Genetics, a Utah company, on genes that correlate with increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
This will allow the price of testing for the gene to drop significantly and have an immediate impact on people’s health, as well as paving the way for additional research on the interaction between genetic and environmental factors that could help us understand how to prevent breast cancer in women who are genetically vulnerable.
Shout out to our friends at Breast Cancer Action for all of their efforts in this case!