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Trends Biotechnol. 2010 Nov;28(11):548-51. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2010.08.005.

Patently unpatentable: implications of the Myriad court decision on genetic diagnostics.

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Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, 1215 Welch Road, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


The recent decision in the case Association for Molecular Pathology et al. v. United States Patent and Trademark Office et al. shocked the biotechnology industry. Although the case could be overturned on appeal, it will probably change how gene patents are written. The effects of the decision might be most strongly felt in the short term by clinical laboratories that develop new genetic tests based on single genes. However, evidence suggests that patents are less effective as an incentive to innovate in the field of genetic diagnostics than for pharmaceuticals. In addition, as genomic technologies move towards whole-genome analysis, policy arguments for patent protection for single genes become less compelling. It is clear that the intellectual property model challenged by the Myriad decision will have to be replaced if new genetic technologies are to achieve their full potential in promoting 'the progress of science and useful arts'.

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