Cancer Voices Australia v Myriad Genetics Inc [2013] FCA 65: Patent ruling breast cancer gene BRCA1

Friday 15 February 2013 @ 11.21 a.m. | IP & Media

Reported in smh.com.au, more patents over human genetic material could be granted after a landmark ruling in the federal court in Sydney on Friday morning (15 February 2013).

Federal court Justice John Nicholas in Cancer Voices Australia v Myriad Genetics Inc [2013] FCA 65 has ruled that a private company can continue to hold a patent over the so-called breast cancer gene BRCA1. A decision that is reported to have "devastated cancer victims".

The decision is the first in Australia to rule on whether isolated genes can be patented, and will set a precedent in favour of commercial ownership of genetic material.

Women with the BRCA genes have a 65 per cent increased risk for breast cancer, and a 40 per cent increased risk of ovarian cancer.

The case was fought by the law firm Maurice Blackburn, on behalf of Cancer Voices Australia and a Brisbane woman with a history of breast cancer, Yvonne D'Arcy.

Rebecca Gilsenan, the principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, said the company had argued that isolating a gene did not constitute manufacturing a new invention, and so should not qualify for a patent.

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