Sorry, corporate America, you can't own our genes. The Supreme Court declared that unanimously today, ruling against Utah-based Myriad Genetics, which holds patents on a pair of genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. But in something of a compromise, the court ruled that while it was unconstitutional to patent "products of nature," it was fine to patent synthetic, human-designed genes, CNN reports.
What does all this mean for you? Well, probably nothing right now, experts tell MSNBC. Patients rights groups had argued that allowing the patents gave companies like Myriad a monopoly on certain tests and fix prices. But "the patents are going to expire before any competitors could come into the field anyway," a law professor says. "This case would have been a lot more important had it been decided 10 or 12 years ago." The court has also in the past allowed techniques using natural ingredients, so while Myriad can't patent a gene, it might be able to patent its specific cancer test.