Decision On Whether Human Genes Can Be Patented Expected Soon

WASHINGTON (November 30, 2012)—The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether companies can patent human genes, a decision that could reshape the future of medical care in the United States.

The justices decided Friday to hear an appeal from medical professionals who want to stop Myriad Genetics Inc. from patenting genetic mutations that are linked to increased risk of breast cancer.

The company's BRACAnalysis test looks for those mutations.

Doctors want to use genetic testing to look at these genes to discover whether patients have increased risks of such diseases as breast or ovarian cancer, but say letting businesses patent them would get in their way.

Companies say without being able to patent and profit from their work, they would not be able to fund the type of medical breakthroughs doctors depend on.

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