The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous 9-0 ruling today denying patent protection from human genes isolated from the body. In its ruling, the court also ruled that synthetic molecules called complementary DNA (cDNA) may be patented because they require substantial human intervention to create.
The case was brought by cancer patients and others who challenged a patent issued to Myriad Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: MYGN) on two human genes that are used to indicate increased risk for developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer in women. Myriad’s patents allowed the company to be the sole U.S. provider of genetic tests for the cancers.
Today’s ruling, written by Justice Thomas, said that isolated DNA is a “product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” However cDNA molecules, which are only the part of human genes that are able to encode proteins, may be patentable.
The ruling was seen as a partial victory for Myriad, and the company’s shares are up 10.3% at $37.44, after posting a new 52-week high of $38.47 earlier. The 52-week low is $22.02.