Would you want to know if you had a greater risk of developing a certain type of cancer and/or disease? Or, if you were already diagnosed with cancer would you want to know if you had a greater risk of reoccurence? Two and a half years ago, after my initial cancer diagnosis, my genetic counselor explained the BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests to me. Heck yeah I wanted to know. My test results definitely affected some of the treatment decisions I made.
So, ground breaking news today…The Supreme Court ruled that Myriad, the company responsible for developing the genetic tests, cannot actually patent human genes. I see this as a victory for cancer patients. Although I am greatful for the research that Myriad has done on these gene mutations, I do not feel that a company should be able to patent a human gene. As Justice Clarence Thomas said:
“Myriad did not create anything. To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.”
I know this ruling might open up a can of worms regarding biotechnology research. And I admit that I am no expert, but I’m curious how others feel regarding this ruling. Even if you’re not a cancer patient/survivor – how do you feel about companies patenting and profiting from your genetic make-up? Some might feel that business is business. In playing devil’s advocate with myself, I wonder if this decision will have any (negative) impact on future R&D funding?