4 Ways the Gene Patent Ruling Affects You
Gene patents, if upheld by the Supreme Court, could affect genetic research and access to genetic tests for patients
The Supreme Court is due to rule by the end of June on the landmark question of whether companies have the right to patent genes.
Since then, thousands of genes have been patented.
Opponents argue that genes are products of nature, which cannot be patented. Myriad counters that when researchers “discover” genes and patent them, these genes are isolated from the human genome, and therefore can be patented. The benefits that patents bring (a temporary market monopoly) provide incentive and funding for researchers to “discover” genes in the first place, Myriad says.
A big concern about gene patents is that they hinder genetic research — once one company has patented a gene, other researchers may fear infringing on that patent by conduct further research on it, the argument goes. But outside the world of research, the ruling will also have effects on patients, critics argue. Here are four effects of gene patents on patients: