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PATENTS FOR GENES

ANCHOR LEAD:  ARE GENE DEFECTS PATENTABLE?  ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

The US Supreme Court may soon weigh in on whether a company can patent a gene defect.  In a case brought by a breast cancer patient, the court is being asked to determine whether a testing for a specific genetic defect is proprietary.  William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, comments.

NELSON:  What’s at issue is can there be an intellectual property or sort of patent presence on that particular gene?  And so for instance I think almost anyone could do a test to see whether BRCA1 was mutated or not but the company patented that and so are they the only people who can be the vendor of that and charge for that? And so it’s not that they charge for that but are they the only people?  I think ultimately it’s going to be an intellectual property issue, it’s going to be very complicated and that’s why it’s moving its way up.  Can you patent a gene defect? And make a test that no one else can do or sell?         :29

The case has implications on the cost of genetic testing, a field with significant clinical impact.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey

 



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