In an amicus brief, the Broad Institute's Eric Lander shares his personal view of the ongoing gene patenting case between Myriad Genetics and the American Civil Liberties Union, saying that isolated DNA fragments are products of nature.
The central issue of the case revolves around Myriad's patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In a mixed ruling, the federal appeals court found that while some of the company's methods patents may not be patentable, its BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene patents, as they concern isolated DNA fragments, are patentable items as human intervention is needed to isolate DNA.
Lander argues that that is not true, though, as the Boston Globe points out, his brief was not filed in support of either side. Isolated DNA, he says, happens all the time in nature. "It is well-accepted in the scientific community that (a) chromosomes are constantly being broken into DNA fragments by natural biological processes that break the covalent bonds within DNA chains; (b) these DNA fragments can be routinely found in the human body … and (c) these fragments cover the entire human genome and, in particular, include many of the DNA fragments claimed by Myriad's patents," the brief says.
The US Supreme Court announced in December that it will re-hear the Myriad gene patenting case.