Supreme Court decisions slows patents for personalized medicine

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The bounds of what can and cannot be patented has caused trouble for companies seeking to patent inventions relevant to personalized medicine, including many diagnostic tests, according to a report in Nature.

Part of the slowing of awarded patents related to personalized medicine is related to a 2012 Supreme Court case, Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, in which the court struck down patents on medical diagnostics, saying patents cannot be issued for natural phenomena, which includes biomedical processes. In a 2013 Supreme Court case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, the court said naturally occurring human genes cannot be patented.

Such decisions have already had implications for companies seeking patents on technology and ideas related to personalized medicine, according to Nature.

One researcher and legal scholar found in 2011, 5.5 percent of patent applications were rejected because of section 101 of the U.S. patent code, which says natural phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable. However, in 2015, 22.5 percent of patent applications were rejected because of section 101.

Additionally, 70.7 percent of section 101 rejections were overturned prior to the Mayo decision; that fell to 29.7 percent after the decision, according to Nature.

The legal scholar, Bernard Chao of University of Denver, indicated in the report one limitation to his findings is that his analysis did not include only personalized medicine patents, and he hopes to analyze individual patents more closely in the future.

More articles on personalized medicine:

A computer assistant for cancer care? 
Florida's Memorial Healthcare System joins precision medicine network 
Stanford to use Google Genomics storage in precision medicine research 

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