Judge postpones U gene patent suit

By By Michael McFall

By Michael McFall

A case that would determine the legitimacy of patenting human genes has been postponed.

Although the parties were supposed to meet in New York on Wednesday afternoon, the judge allowed the civil case to be postponed until the end of September to allow the parties more time to review their documents and request information, said prosecuting attorney Christopher Hansen.

“We’ll be submitting a lot of requests today instead,” Hansen said.

The U and Myriad Genetics asked New York Federal Judge Robert Sweet to dismiss the lawsuit against them last July. The Association for Molecular Pathology and the ACLU sued the U and Myriad last May for seven patents on two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The U and Myriad argued in their request to dismiss the suit that the prosecution cannot prove the patents are harmful.

The ACLU and AMP’s lawsuit questions the legality of patenting the human body and controlling a woman’s access to health care, since the case’s cancers exclusively affect women. If the prosecution is successful, the case could overturn the thousands of U.S. patents on human genes made in the past 20 years.

No dollar amount has been set for how much the U might have to pay if it loses the case.
The case will resume Sept. 30.

The U’s Council did not respond for comment.

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