The last month has been an exciting one in the wonderful world of gene patents. Here are a few highlights:
- The American Medical Association adopted policy at its annual meeting opposing the patenting of human genes. Delegates stated that the practice restricts research and limits physician and patient access to reasonably priced genetic testing.
- John Sulston, a Nobel laureate and a key player in the Human Genome Project, also voiced his concern over gene patenting, arguing that such information should be a part of the public domain.
- In Australia, legal action has been launched against Myriad Genetics for their patent on the BRCA1 gene, in light of the unfolding Myriad proceedings taking place in the US. The plaintiffs plan to argue that the BRCA1 gene is naturally occurring, and thus disqualified from patent protections under Australian law.
- Last, but not least, the Supreme Court announced a decision in the edge-of-your-seat Bilski v Kappos case. It affirmed a lower court's decision to reject the Bilski patent, but concluded that the "machine-or-transformation test" is not the sole assessment for determining patentability of a "process." This ruling has had little impact on the status quo of biotechnology patents so far, but this state of affairs may change with the unfolding of the Myriad case.
With Myriad Genetics' appeal of the March decision by a district court that human genes cannot be patented, there is sure to be lots of news in the offing. Stay tuned for more!
Previously on Biopolitical Times