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Biotech Industry at Stake as U.S. Court Weighs Human Gene Patent

For 30 years, biotechnology innovators have secured thousands of U.S. patents on genes, defining the legal rights to medical and agricultural products worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether that was all a big mistake. The court next week will debate whether human genes can be patented, hearing arguments from doctors, patients and scientists who say patents are stifling clinical testing and research. The group is challenging Myriad Genetics Inc.’s patents on genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.