Supreme Court hearing arguments on whether human genes can be patented

By WEEK Reporter

Supreme Court hearing arguments on whether human genes can be patented

April 16, 2013 Updated Apr 16, 2013 at 11:28 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, DC -- Can human genes be patented?

The US Supreme Court heard that arguments for that question on Monday.

Thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States and a Utah company hold the key to detecting it.

Myriad Genetics isolated and patented two parts of DNA used to identify a risk for breast and ovarian cancer, giving the company a monopoly on al diagnostic tests related to the genes.

A group of researchers, associations and patients argue genes can't be patented because they are a product of nature and patents only protect inventions.

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