Myriad’s Patents on BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 for Breast Cancer: What’s all the Fuss?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 6:30pm

Team mediVision

BRCA 1 and 2 are genes that, when mutated, increase susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers. Myriad Genetics claimed the rights to these genes through a series of 7 utility patents. In total 15 process and compositional claims were challenged by the Association of Molecular Biology on the grounds that Myriad Genetics was in violation of 35 USC §101 by patenting a naturally occurring article.  The Federal Appeals Court deemed compositional claims patent eligible given that Myriad patented an unnatural state of the BRCA genes. Myriad Genetics has also upheld their method for screening potential cancer therapeutics to treat cancers related to BRCA mutations. In contrast, Myriad’s claim to diagnosis through sequence comparison was invalidated by The Federal Appeals Court as the claims were only directed to abstract mental processes. It is unlikely that The Federal Appeals Court will be the last word on patent eligibility of natural molecules. Review of this case by the Supreme Court could trigger the rejection of future gene patents and set a precedent for the development of diagnostic technologies.


Presented by Team mediVision. Open to the public! Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 6:30-7:30pm, Room 120, Instructional Building, University of Toronto Mississauga. Also available via webcast. 

The Master of Biotechnology Program would like to thank AstraZeneca Canada Inc. for their continued support of this seminar series.