While the Supreme Court’s decision to forbid patents on human genes knocked out
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that although "naturally occurring" DNA like the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 could not be patented, the company could still patent the cDNA version of these two genes, classifying those as man-made products. Complementary DNA, or cDNA, copies the parts of a particular DNA strand that code for proteins (exons) while excluding the bits of non-coding DNA (introns).
Dr. Cy Stein, chair of medical
"It's just a fantastic thing, and it has released a serious chill that we were all feeling," Stein said.
At the same time, allowing companies to patent cDNA as a man-made product threw a bone to companies looking to protect their work.
"You have to have some protection. … People have to be able to make a profit somehow," Stein said.
"The modern technology will give us the DNA sequence of anything that's in the test tube," Grody said. "We don't need to have any prior knowledge of its sequence."
Thus, the cDNA protections may not have been as much cause for celebration among Myriad's supporters as they initially seemed, he added.
"It's almost a moot point. … It doesn't stop the rest of us from now using our own techniques to examine these genes," Grody said.