Supreme Court rules genes cannot be patented, opens market on breast, ovarian cancer testing

Myriad Genetic Laboratories loses gene patent

JUPITER, Fla. -- - New hope and new options for women with breast or ovarian cancer after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday human genes cannot be patented.

The ruling opens that market for more companies to develop, sell and research the BRACA 1 and BRACA 2 gene, which if discovered mutated, increases chances for a person to have breast or ovarian cancer.

Myriad Genetic Laboratories has owned the market obtaining a patent on the genes.

Cancer survivors Loren Battaglia-Beley, 29, used Myriad Genetic Laboratories and had a BRACAnalysis shortly before being diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I honestly think it saved my life because if I didn't have that test, at 28 I never would have thought to get a mammogram," said Battaglia-Beley.

Her insurance covered the test that detects the mutated gene that increases cancer risk.

Many do not have that insurance or the money to pay for the test.

A cost driven up because one company has had the patent on the genes.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday put an end to that.

"I was very curious on how something could be patented that occurred in nature. It's not a product they produce," said Conni Murphy, a nurse practitioner at Jupiter Medical Center.

Murphy, who administers BRACAnalysis, said the decision opens the market for other companies to offer the test and research. Murphy said that means more competition and lower costs for patients.

"All of those things are going to expand our ability to diagnose this particular inheritable cancer syndrome and it's going to be huge. It's going to be huge," said Murphy.

Battaglia-Beley considers herself luck that she had the test. Now she is hoping more women and men can join her in preventing cancer.

"It's fantastic for them to know they have options and to really save their lives at the end of the day because now they're going to know," said Battaglia-Beley.

Shortly after the ruling, critics said the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court will only discourage other companies from investing funding into genetic research. Some have said allowing the patent entices research and companies to gather the benefits to continue to fund similar programs.

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