Article Title

Who Owns Our Genes?


In June of 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others in a case arguing against the patentability of human genes. Critics of gene patenting had long suggested that instead of promoting innovation, human gene patents posed a significant roadblock to the development of important diagnostics and therapeutics, and had a negative impact on public health. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the opposing party, argued that the patenting of human genes encouraged researchers and scientists to try to find alternate paths to reach end goals. However, Myriad Genetics strictly defended patents on breast and ovarian cancer-causing BRCA genes not only stymied research by other institutions, but constituted a monopoly on testing methods. Furthermore, ethical questions were raised over ownership of human genes, and whether public money could be used to fund private business interests. Through an examination of the case against Myriad Genetics and their patents on BRCA genes, this article takes a look at the important questions of who owns our genes, and whether our genes should be owned.