Does Whole-Genome Sequencing Circumvent Gene Patents?


[Excerpt] "Last month, the Supreme Court voted to hear the case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics to consider the question whether human genes are patentable. The plaintiffs—doctors, patients, researchers, and the American Civil Liberties Union—have challenged Myriad’s patents on the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which cover, among other things, isolated DNA molecules with the sequences of those genes. A federal district court in New York ruled that the patent claims on isolated DNA molecules were invalid, but that ruling was reversed on appeal by the Federal Circuit in D.C. The Supreme Court decided to review the Federal Circuit’s decision and will likely rule on whether isolated human gene sequences are patentable next summer. This case has profound implications for biotechnology, and diagnostics, as well as the emerging field of personalized medicine. Among the fascinating issues that will likely be addressed is whether WGS—an essential foundation for truly personalized medicine—violates human gene patents."

Publication Date


Journal Title

Bio-IT World

Document Type


Additional Information

Available at This article is based on a more detailed analysis by the author published in volume 33:4 (2012) in the Cardozo Law Review.