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Myriad sues competitors for infringing genes patents

Myriad is suing two competitors for allegedly infringing its patents on genes that can help to detect cancer, despite a ruling by the Supreme Court that human genes are ineligible for patent protection


In Association for Molecular Pathology v Myriad Genetics last month, the court ruled that isolated and purified DNA was a product of nature, which is exempt from patent protection under Section 101. The justices ruled that complementary DNA (cDNA) can be patented, however, because it requires significant human skill to create.

The genes could be used to screen for breast and ovarian cancer, but because Myriad owns the patents on them, other companies were unable to offer the tests. Utah-based Myriad charged around $3,000 for providing testing for the two genes.

Since the ruling, companies and universities have announced they will provide the tests. Last week, Myriad sued two of these companies, Ambry Genetics and Gene by Gene, claiming their tests infringed other patents owned by Myriad that were not invalidated by the court.

In a statement, Ambry CEO Charles Dunlop said the company will “vigorously defend” the complaint and the motion for preliminary injunction. He said the company has had “an overwhelming response from our clients seeking an alternative laboratory to perform BRCA testing”.

Myriad has filed a separate complaint against Gene by Gene.

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