CRF Blog

Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., et al.

by Laura Wesley

Can life be patented? A recent Supreme Court decision held that genes taken from the human body cannot be patented.  Some say this is a victory for patients  who could benefit from genetic research that could produce new and inexpensive testing for a variety of diseases. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s decision does not prohibit companies from continuing to innovate with synthetically produced genetic material. The full text of the decision is available through the U.S. Supreme Court’s web site.

Interested in teaching this issue to high school students or just gaining a better understanding of patents and biology? CRF does have free PowerPoint presentations on this topic:

1) Patenting Life, Part 1: Should Living Things Be Patented? The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a patent for a human-created bacterium that eats oil. Can other living things be patented?

2) Patenting Life, Part 2: Should Living Things Be Patented? The science of genetics began in the 19th century. Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, experimented on pea pod plants.