SCOTUS to take up Myriad gene patent case

The U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether human genes can be patented, Reuters reports. That's potentially bad news for Myriad Genetics ($MYGN), only a few months after the company won a U.S. Court of Appeals legal victory affirming its right to protect intellectual property for isolated genes involved in its cancer tests.

Specifically, the Myriad case will be the focus of the Supreme Court review--an ongoing fight to protect patents regarding two genes linked respectively to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, the story explains. The court agreed on Friday that it would hear the case.

In August, the company prevailed in a 2-1 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Patient and medical advocates have long opposed the patent, arguing that the legal protection holds back scientific progress, and that you can't patent what is a product of nature anyway.

At issue: whether the company's isolation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is a patentable thing.

The Supreme Court's decision to take up the case was expected. Longer term, it creates some risk for Myriad, which has been generating banner revenue thanks in part to its BRACAnalysis test. The test, at issue under the legal case, generates the bulk of Myriad's revenue and continues to be in high demand. It is a gene-expression assay that can determine a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

- here's Reuters' story
- check out Bloomberg's take