Patenting Human Genes: The Myriad Controversy

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The controversy over human gene patents was recently reignited when a United States Federal District Court decided in March 2010 that isolated human gene sequences are not patentable. An appeal of the decision is pending, but in late October, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case arguing that such gene sequences should not be patentable.

Because this case may eventually find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling could have significant implications on gene-based medical therapies and the biotechnology industry at large. It is therefore important to assess both past and present contexts of this controversy, taking into account scientific research, healthcare access, and ethical concerns.