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Australian Court Weighs Patenting Case

The gene patenting fight has reached Australia's top court, the Guardian reports.

It notes that the Australian case stretches back to 2013 when a federal court ruled that Myriad Genetics through its Genetic Technologies company could patent BRCA1 gene mutations, as isolating the gene took human intervention. That ruling, the Guardian says, gave companies the ability to control who could conduct research on those genes.

The federal court rejected last fall an appeal to the decision led by cancer patient Yvonne D'Arcy. She argues that gene mutations are not human inventions and thus not patentable. D'Arcy has taken the case to the high court and a decision is expected in the next few days, the Guardian notes.

Luigi Palombi, a patent lawyer from Murdoch University, tells the Guardian he hopes the Australian court will follow the example of the US Supreme Court and find that genes cannot be patented. He says that the lower court decision "defied good policy and common sense."

"The fact that scientists and companies interested in developing new diagnostics and treatments in the US can do that without negotiating through a maze of gene patents gives them a distinct advantage," he adds.