Human Genes Can’t Be Patented, Says Supreme Court

3080247531_bf04a5cbe5In a unanimous decision (written by Justice Clarence Thomas, of all people), the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that human genes can’t be patented. However, a manipulated gene that creates something not found in nature can receive patent protection.

The case was Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, No. 12-398, which involves the BRCA 1 and 2 genes, a mutation in which can indicate an increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. Until this ruling, Myriad Genetics controlled the research and testing for the BRCA mutations.

More to come on this momentous ruling.

Photo of DNA from Flickr user micahb37 under license from Creative Commons 2.0


Michele Kort is senior editor of Ms. She is the author of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro and coeditor (with Audrey Bilger) of Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage.