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August 28, 2013

Who Owns Human Genes?Is DNA Patentable?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Georgetown University Law Center, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2013;310(8):791-792. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.177833

Angelina Jolie’s recent disclosure that she had undergone a prophylactic double mastectomy following a positive test for a BRCA1 mutation (which increases lifetime breast cancer risk by 60%-87%) prompted a national conversation about genetic testing and preventive surgery.1 Tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2 cost more than $3000, placing them beyond the reach of many women. The high cost is partly a consequence of intellectual property protection afforded to Myriad Genetics Inc, which sequenced the genes and developed the testing capability.

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