Breast Cancer Survivr says No to Patent Claim on Cancer Genes

A breast cancer survivor says she is challenging a patent claim on cancer genes because she does not want biotech companies to own human material.

A landmark case challenging the ownership of breast and ovarian cancer genes has begun in the Federal Court in Sydney.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn claims four biotech companies do not have the right to patent a set of human cancer genes.

The dispute is over the ownership of the gene mutation named BRCA1 that could be used to identify an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer in humans.

If a woman has a mutation in BRCA1, she has up to an 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer and also a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

Tests are available but they are controlled by American company Myriad Technologies, which obtained a patent over the mutated gene.

Myriad filed a patent for the gene, but Cancer Voice of Australia has teamed up with Maurice Blackburn to fight the claim.

Outside court, breast cancer survivor Yvonne D'arcy said she was worried about a slippery slope when biotech companies start to own this material.

"I'm just hesitant about somebody owning a part of me, or you, or anybody else," she said.

"I don't believe that it's right."

Representatives of the American company told the court that its scientists identified the sequence and have the right to own it.

The government authority that grants patents over genes has previously argued that banning patents would threaten innovation.

Rebecca Gilsenan from Maurice Blackburn says companies should not be able to patent genes.

"Patent law is intended to protect inventions, not discoveries," she said.

"We say that the reason that you can't own a human gene is that it's a discovery of something that exists in nature.

"The other methods and so on in the patent might be inventions, but the first three claims to the gene itself we say are not inventions, and are not capable of ownership."

Original Post : http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/12958649/cancer-survivor...

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