I, and most physicians and scientists are just delighted that the Supreme Court has finally ruled unanimously against a private corporation’s ability to own a gene. Specifically, this landmark ruling centered on patents for just two breast cancer genes, BRCA1 in BRCA2 which were held by a company called Myriad Genetics based in Utah. Although hundreds of mutated forms of these genes have been found, only a few are associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. This was most recently brought to the forefront by actress Angelina Jolie who had a double mastectomy because she was positive on this gene testing.
This new decision by the Supreme Court will allow other companies to go into competition with Myriad Genetics, which will not only drive the price of the test down, but also allow innovation and expansion of testing capabilities. Their cost to the patient for this test has been $3000.
Nucleotides are the individual components of a gene. Justice Clarence Thomas in reading the opinion of the court stated “The location and order of the nucleotides existed in nature before Myriad found them.” This one sentence in the court’s opinion, explained why a company cannot own a gene.
Immediately following the Supreme Court’s ruling the cost of the BrCa test dropped to $995