by Aaron Stiefel, John Hendricks
Washington Legal Foundation
March 19, 2013
Myriad Genetics, Inc. is a research firm that engages in genetic research. Myriad isolates genes by taking a blood sample, fragmenting the extracted genes, and then looking for mutations or other variants. Myriad has obtained patents from the U.S. Patent Office on “isolated” forms of two genes that are correlated with a higher risk of breast or ovarian cancer in their “isolated” state. Because of their patents, they claimed exclusive control over the genes once they were removed from the body and from human cells. This case explores whether or not human genes are patent-eligible subject matter under the Patent Act.