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March 15, 1995

Cancer Gene Patent Dispute Settled

JAMA. 1995;273(11):833. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520350015005

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THREE CONTENDERS for the patent involving a recently identified breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene have settled a potentially ugly dispute by agreeing to share credit for the discovery.

On February 10, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md, and the University of Utah and Myriad Genetics Inc, both in Salt Lake City, signed an agreement naming researchers from all three organizations as joint inventors in patent applications relating to the discovery of the BRCA1 gene (Science. 1994;266:66-71 and 120-122).

Deleterious mutations in the gene located on chromosome 17 have been shown to greatly increase susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers. Recent studies suggest that women who inherit certain BRCAl mutations may have nearly a 90% cumulative lifetime (to 80 years of age) risk of developing breast cancer (JAMA. 1995;273:535-541 and 577-585).

The identification of this gene was announced in October 1994 by a team of scientists at Myriad

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