Miscellaneous

European Patent Office Revokes Myriad's BRCA1 Patent

07.06.2004

Munich - After a public hearing in mid-May the European Patent Office (EPO) revoked one of three patents covering the predictive cancer DNA tests of the US company Myriad Genetics Inc. (EP 699. 754). Myriad's BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests identify genetic alterations that correlate with a higher risk to get breast cancer or ovarian tumors.
With the decision the EPO panel agreed with the arguments of a research consortium led by French Institute Curie. The researchers criticized that the protected DNA sequence for the BRCA1 test already had been published before Myriad's patent application and that the wide claims of the patent are hindering research. But in contrast to fundamental opponents to DNA patents like Greenpeace the researchers do not reject DNA patenting as such.
The decision will not affect Myriad's business, because the company did not sell the breast cancer test to any of the 28 European countries that follow the EPO's policies. However a spokesman announced that Myriad is to appeal against the decision.The company markets the test in the US, where it sells for around $2,500 as part of a BRCA1 and BRCA2 panel.
However the patent “has been the subject of public discussion ever since,” an EPO spokesman said. “Oppositions to the patent were filed in October 2001 by a number of parties including the Institut Curie.” A written statement of reasons for the opposition will be published in the next few months, a EPO spokesman said. The other two Myriad patents will be reviewed by the EPO in 2005.

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