Not too long ago we had discussed, analysed and debated the patentability of human gene here, here , here and here. We also reported a proposed legislation to expressly exclude genetic patents in Australia. Just as we were beginning to drift away from the seemingly unending debate, this news from the US has summoned our curiocity.
Contrary to the contemporary policy of the USPTO and the prevailing US government’s stand on the matter, US Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit on Friday held that isolated human genes are patentable. Reversing the decision of the Court of first instance, the three member panel held that isolated human genes are significantly different from the genes in the body and so, the isolated DNAs can be patented. The verdict came in the Myriad Genetics’ lawsuit seeking patents on two genes to detect whether woman has an increased threat of getting breast cancer.
While several human rights activists are finding it shocking, the biotechnology industry is already smelling a radical change. Speaking for the three member panel of the court that specialises in Patent matters, Judge Allen Lourie was reported to have stated that “The ability to visualize a DNA molecule through a microscope, or by any other means, when it is bonded to other genetic material, is worlds apart from possessing an isolated DNA molecule that is in hand and usable….”
While the Court of Appeal has temporarily cleared the cloud over gene patenting, the issue is most likely to be escalated to the US Supreme Court.
News from TimesWireService
Image from Wikipedia