The US Department of Justice has dropped what the Genomics Law Report's Dan Vohaus and John Conley are calling a "minor bombshell" on human gene patents debate. In an amicus brief filed last week, the DoJ argued that that isolated human genes shouldn't be patentable, which directly contradicts longstanding US Patent and Trademark Office policy, Vorhaus and Conley report. Turna Ray at our sister publication Pharmacogenomics Reporter has more detail, here.
Overall, the government's position is that "genomic DNA that has merely been isolated from the human body, without further alteration or manipulation, is not patent-eligible," the DoJ brief reads. Vorhaus and Conley say they're surprised the government has even filed a brief at all, and expect that the initial reaction from the biotech industry will likely be that of "concern."
At the Genomics, Evolution, and Pseudoscience blog, Steven Salzberg says it's rare and "very refreshing" to see "such sensible scientific reasoning from lawyers." The implications of any decision arising from this case are likely to stretch beyond just Myriad and the BRCA genes, he says. If DoJ's position is upheld, it could have implications for almost every gene patent, Salzberg says, adding his opinion that "it's about time."