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Supreme Court rejects patents on 2 naturally-occurring genes

When Angelina Jolie announced last month that she decided to get a prophylactic double mastectomy, she based her decision on the presence of the BRCA1 gene in her body—a gene that was detected via a costly medical test.

The Supreme Court today unanimously struck down patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2—two genes linked to hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer—when the genes occur in the body. Myriad did not create or alter any of the genetic information of the BCRA1 and BRCA2 genes, and thus does not satisfy patenting requirements, according to the decision. “Myriad discovered the precise location and sequence of what are now known as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court.

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