Baltimore Fishbowl student intern Ethan Park had the privilege last week to hear attorneys argue the case over gene patents before the United States Supreme Court.
Recently, in the landmark case AMP v. Myriad Genetics, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have endeavored to resolve the question: Are human genes patentable?
Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Myriad Genetics’ patents directed to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, whose variants are associated with an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, are patentable subject matter.
The Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) appealed to the Supreme Court, oral arguments were made just over a week ago before a packed courtroom, and a verdict is expected in June or July.
Patents expire 20 years from the filing date, and patent protection for the BRCA genes has given Myriad a monopoly over BRCA testing procedures, which brings in millions of dollars annually for the company. Myriad also has the right to deny competitors or individuals from further researching or producing the genes without their consent.