Court: Can human genes be patented?

MGN Online

WASHINGTON (AP) - DNA may be the building block of life, but can something taken from it also be the building block of a multimillion-dollar medical monopoly?

The Supreme Court grapples today with the question of whether human genes can be patented. Its ultimate answer could reshape U.S. medical research, the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer and the multi-billion dollar medical and biotechnology business.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been awarding patents on human genes for almost 30 years.

Companies like Myriad Genetics say they have risked billions of dollars to conduct research under the promise of such patents. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged Myriad's patents, arguing that genes should never have been patented in the first place.

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