The Supreme Court’s gene patenting decision left plenty of room for profitable business in synthetic DNA, Wall Street is indicating. Myriad Genetics, the genetics research company involved by the case decided Thursday, is up more than 8% in mid-day trading:
While there’s no guarantee Myriad will end the day quite so high, this is a sign investors are positive about Myriad’s future. Rightfully so: While the Supreme Court found organic DNA can’t be patented, it conceded that synthetically engineered DNA can be protected by a patent.
“. . .the lab technician unquestionably creates something new when cDNA is made. cDNA retains the naturally occurring exons of DNA, but it is distinct from the DNA from which it was derived. As a result, cDNA is not a “product of nature” and is patent eligible under §101, except insofar as very short series of DNA may have no intervening introns to remove when creating cDNA,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court’s unanimous decision.
Myriad has built a profitable business offering DNA testing services based on two genes it discovered and patented, BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mutations in those genes signal a woman is more likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer later in life. Thursday’s Supreme Court decision means Myriad will lose its BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents.
While one might’ve expected Myriad’s shares to nosedive after the court’s decision came down, investors are betting Myriad can shift into a new realm of patentable potential profitability: synthetic DNA, also called cDNA for “complementary DNA.”
Human cDNA, useful to scientists as it makes it opens the door to research in fields like reverse genetics and synthetic biology, is based on organic genetic code — which Myriad already has plenty of expertise in identifying. Myriad might continue to perform non-patentable research on the human genetic code, but it’s specifically cDNA that investors seem to be saying will be its future form of profitable genetic research.
Can Myriad make money from cDNA? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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