BRCA

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to decide whether a private company can own a part of your body.

Currently, a company called Myriad Genetics “owns” two genes known as BRCA 1 and BRCA2 –or Breast Cancer 1 and Breast Cancer 2. Women with certain mutations in these genes have a strong chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer.

This has very dangerous implications for women’s health, and it’s illegal. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of these gene patents. On April 15, 2013, the ACLU argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. We expect a decision this summer.

Read more about BRCA on our FAQ page here.

The Fight to Take Back Our Genes

Myriad Genetics’ Latest Attempt to Maintain Its Monopoly on Our Genes Rejected

By Sandra Park, ACLU at 11:02am
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling invalidating patents on human genes.  The case was brought by the ACLU, along with the Public Patent Foundation, on behalf of 20medical organizations, geneticists, health advocacy groups, and patients and challenged patents controlled by Myriad Genetics on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  Based on a 30-year-old U.S. Patent & Trademark Office policy, Myriad had obtained its patents on these two genes, which are closely associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk, and stopped other laboratories in the U.S. from providing genetic testing to patients, even when these labs wanted to offer different, more comprehensive, or less expensive tests. 
Human Gene Patents Struck Down: Reactions from the Plaintiffs

Human Gene Patents Struck Down: Reactions from the Plaintiffs

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 4:18pm

For the last four years, I've had the honor of representing 20 amazing organizations and individuals in our challenge to human gene patents. They include: leading organizations of pathologists and geneticists; scientists, physicians, and genetic counselors…

VICTORY! Supreme Court Decides: Our Genes Belong to Us, Not Companies

VICTORY! Supreme Court Decides: Our Genes Belong to Us, Not Companies

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 11:35am

Should companies be able to patent human genes? Today, the Supreme Court answered that profound question with a resounding NO.

Seems like common sense, right? But over the last 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on thousands…

Barbara Brenner, 1951-2013

Barbara Brenner, 1951-2013

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 11:00am

The ACLU mourns the loss of a great leader, tenacious activist, and close friend of the organization. Barbara Brenner, the longtime director of Breast Cancer Action ("BCA"), was a frequent and trusted ACLU collaborator – as an employee at the ACLU…

Are Genes Patentable? An Insider's Review of the ACLU's Supreme Court Argument on Gene Patenting

Are Genes Patentable? An Insider's Review of the ACLU's Supreme Court Argument on Gene Patenting

By Lenora M. Lapidus, Women's Rights Project at 2:01pm

In honor of DNA Day, celebrated on April 25, the ACLU gives you an insider's take on our Supreme Court Argument on gene patenting.

Are human genes patentable? That is the question at issue in AMP v. Myriad Genetics, which the ACLU argued before…

Today's the Day: Challenging Human Gene Patents Before the Supreme Court

Today's the Day: Challenging Human Gene Patents Before the Supreme Court

By Sandra Park, ACLU at 10:16am

Today, we're headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for oral argument in our challenge to human gene patents...

Filmmaker Joanna Rudnick on Life with the “Breast Cancer Gene” and Human Gene Patenting

Filmmaker Joanna Rudnick on Life with the “Breast Cancer Gene” and Human Gene Patenting

By Joanna Rudnick, Activist, Filmmaker at 1:19pm

In the Family (POV 2008) tells the first-person story of director Joanna Rudnick as she tries to decide on a course of action after testing positive for the BRCA1 mutation, the "breast cancer gene." To raise public awareness of the issues being presented…

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

By Christopher E. Mason, Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics, Weill Cornell Medical College, Affiliate Fellow, Information Society Project of Yale Law School & Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School at 12:29pm

Even though they’ve been in our families since the dawn of man, our genes do not belong to us. They’ve been claimed by companies that hold patents on the DNA from our cells. Over the past 20 years, at least 41 percent of our genes have become the…

Voices on Human Gene Patents: Gene Discovery, Patents, and the Community

Voices on Human Gene Patents: Gene Discovery, Patents, and the Community

By Sue Friedman, DVM, Founder, Executive Director, FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered at 11:32am

Recently a dear friend sent me a link to an article in the February 1996 issue of Nature Medicine. The article...

Remembering the Real Purpose of Patents

Remembering the Real Purpose of Patents

By James Evans, Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill School of Medicine at 10:44am

James Evans, MD, PhD is the Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He was a member of the advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services on…

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