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Breaking News For Breast Cancer Research: Australia Says You Can’t Patent A Gene!

Yvonne D’Arcy just won her law suit against the biotech company, Myriad Genetics. D’Arcy has beaten breast cancer twice and has taken up the fight against Myriad’s patent of the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes. According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), D’Arcy’s argument was that, “genes existed in nature, so were discovered rather than invented.” Finally, a decision has been made in this important court case and the court’s decision has been heard across the globe.

Part of Watson and Crick’s DNA model / Via Science Museum London

The BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes have been linked to causing both ovarian and breast cancers. But Myriad has had a patent on this gene for several years in Australia, despite them losing a similar court case in the US. What this has meant is that Myriad had proprietary rights to the BRCA genes. This enabled them to control the market on genetic tests that enabled doctors to identify the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes in patients. In the past, these test have been extremely expensive due to Myriad’s patent on the genes, costing patients as much as $4,000.

The Australian High Court, however, ruled that Myriad Genetics could not hold a patent on a gene that occurs within the human body. The court decided that BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 are not inventions or products and therefore could not be patented. The ruling was based on the fact that Myriad had isolated the gene and discovered it, but they hadn’t invented it.

This is a huge decision in the world of breast cancer research. Not only will tests for the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes become less expensive and more accessible, but this opens up more research avenues as well. Now that Australia has decreed that these genes are not the sole product of any single company, more companies can use these isolated genes to conduct vital breast cancer research.

Australia’s decision is not only a victory for their country, but for all survivors across the world!


You can join the cause by donating to the Breast Cancer Site. For as little as $5, you can support research into the human genome that helps customize treatment for breast cancer patients. Your donation will go directly to the advancement of innovative research in the battle against cancer. Fight for the pink ribbon today!

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Will Stefanski is a left-handed bibliophile who now owns a cherry-red Schwinn Traveler III. On summer afternoons you can almost see his vermilion shadow passing you at great speeds.