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Local Geneticist Celebrates Court Ruling That Genes Cannot Be Patented

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13:  People walk out of the U.S. Supreme Court building June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the Association for Molecular Pathology v Myriad Genetics case that human genes can not be patented, but ruled synthetically produced genetic material can be patented.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 13: People walk out of the U.S. Supreme Court building June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the Association for Molecular Pathology v Myriad Genetics case that human genes can not be patented, but ruled synthetically produced genetic material can be patented. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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By: Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A University of Pennsylvania geneticist is hailing Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that says naturally occurring human genes cannot be patented.

“I was very happy. I was excited,” said Arupa Ganguly.

She feels vindicated, even if it took 14 years after her lab at Penn was ordered to stop testing women for the BRCA genes associated with breast cancer, because the company Myriad Genetics had patented the genes.

“I had not believed that this could happen to an academic lab,” said the geneticist.

Ganguly became a plaintiff in the suit challenging Myriad’s patents. She says the unanimous Supreme Court ruling is a victory for patients.

“They have access to different testing labs and that is good for pricing and also the quality of the test,’ said Ganguly.

With its monopoly on the genes, Myriad has been charging $3,000 for the test – prohibitive for many women. And a second opinion has been impossible. Ganguly predicts that will change quickly as more labs offer an alternative.

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