NEW YORK - A federal court says human genes can be patented, reversing a lower court’s ruling that involved a test for breast cancer but which could have had wider implications for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
Judge Alan Lourie’s ruling says the genes can be patented because the isolated DNA has a “markedly different chemical structure’’ from DNA within the body. The Patent and Trademark Office has been awarding patents on genes for almost 30 years.
The lawsuit concerned two patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc. of Salt Lake City. Myriad’s BRACAnalysis test looks at gene sequences linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The American Civil Liberties Union argued that genes couldn’t be patented, and in March 2010, a New York district court agreed.