In a unanimous ruling, the US supreme court says that human genes cannot be patented, as DNA is a product of nature. But the court said synthetically produced genetic material can be claimed as intellectual property.
US pharmaceutical companies had previously warned that banning DNA patents would put investment in gene therapies at risk.
The compromise ruling over artificially copied DNA is expected to protect existing patents covering synthetic molecules.
Myriad Genetics is at the centre of the legal battle. The company argued that they had ‘isolated’ the specific cancer related genes thus making them susceptible to intellectual property laws, but their claim was struck down.
Research firms have been able to patent genes for the last 30 years.