June 12, 2013

Statement by NIH Director Francis Collins on U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Gene Patenting

I am very pleased with today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Assoc. for Molecular Pathology Et Al. v. USPTO and Myriad Genetics, Inc. Et Al. that genes isolated from the human body are not patentable. The decision represents a victory for all those eagerly awaiting more individualized, gene-based approaches to medical care.

The right to control exclusively the use of a patient’s genes could have made it more difficult to access new tests and treatments that rely on novel technologies that can quickly determine the sequence of any of the estimated 20,000 genes in the human genome. Such approaches form the cornerstone of the rapidly emerging field of personalized medicine, in which diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive strategies can be tailored to each person’s unique genetic makeup.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health