A Noteworthy DNA Patent Case for N.J. Biotechs

September 19, 2011 – In The News
NJ Biz

A case involving Utah-based Myriad Genetics, a molecular diagnostic firm, is gaining national attention as doctors and lawyers look to the courts to define how and when the biotech industry can patent its genetics-based discovery.

Gerard P. Norton said the central question is whether DNA in an isolated form is a naturally occurring material, or is a product of human ingenuity.

"If you take a human being and put them in front of this magic microscope, would this DNA sequence as it is claimed (in the patent) exist?" he said.

To Norton and the court, the answer is no.

While some say these patents have major implications for patients and could restrict other scientists from accessing the gene, Norton argues that these patents are critical to the industry working to further medical innovation and ultimately public health.

"It certainly pulls on your heartstrings," he said. "Companies aren't out there trying to take advantage of sick people. They're actually trying to help them."