Supreme Court Says Human Gene Cannot Be Patented

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled partially for Myriad Genetics Inc on the closely watched issue of whether human genes can be patented, deciding synthetically produced genetic material can be patented but naturally occurring DNA cannot.

geneThe nine justices ruled unanimously in the case. The biotechnology industry had warned that an expansive ruling against Myriad could threaten billions of dollars of investment.

The court said synthetically produced genetic material can be patented but that genes extracted from the human body, known as isolated DNA, do not merit the same legal protections.

The compromise outcome, which was urged by the Obama administration, will have less impact on Myriad. The Myriad patents in dispute will all expire by 2015.

Myriad’s shares jumped more than 8 percent to $36.83 after the ruling was issued.

The ruling means that some of Myriad’s patents concerning synthetic molecules called cDNA, will likely survive, although the parties disagree on that point.

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