From Technology Review.
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit that challenges the right of Myriad Genetics to patent a genetic test for breast cancer. The suit revives the question, should human DNA be owned?
For years, patent officials around the world have wrestled with how to apply existing patent law to the discovery of genes that promise to be powerful predictors of disease. The legal question has been, are these discoveries natural entities that cannot be patented, or can a diagnostic test involving a particular gene be considered intellectual property?
Currently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has it both ways. It does not allow anyone to patent my own specific BRCA1 gene, but it allowed Myriad to patent the sequence of the gene with mutations that indicate breast cancer–which can then be compared with another patient's version of the gene to see if she carries the mutation pattern.
Now the ACLU, joined by a broad coalition of plaintiffs, including physicians, patient groups, and scientific associations, argues that this was a mistake and should be overturned…