Taking Back Our Genes
Houston, TX - When you say the sentence aloud, or read it, you almost pause at its incredulity. But for almost 20 years, Myriad Genetics, a Salt Lake City-based biotech laboratory, has held a patent on the BRCA genes, which are linked to breast and ovarian cancers.
That gene monopoly came to an end a few weeks ago when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a gene is not an invention of man, but rather a naturally occurring event – and a company cannot hold a patent on nature. The court’s ruling will open up abundant research opportunities for institutions within the Texas Medical Center and in other labs throughout the country to move forward with genetic sequencing and analysis aimed at finding new and better ways to treat diseases.
With Myriad holding the patent for BRCA genes, doctors could only use one test – the BRCA Analysis test available through Myriad – to look at whether a patient was genetically predisposed to breast or ovarian cancer. This is the same test that recently garnered worldwide headlines when actress Angelina Jolie took the test and, based on the results, chose to undergo a double mastectomy after the test showed she had a strong hereditary link to breast cancer.
With the Supreme Court’s new ruling, a number of companies – not just one – can now generate their own BRCA analysis tests. When competition comes into play, costs go down. Most authorities who have weighed in on the Supreme Court ruling say patients are the real winners in this lawsuit. That’s the good news. Continue>
Posted in: Community | December 11, 2013