In a unanimous decision last month, the Supreme Court ruled that naturally occurring genes are not patentable. But, said the Court, cDNA, a man-made copy of the genetic messenger in cells, is patentable. As a geneticist, I have my own opinions about this ruling. But the potential outcomes are important enough that all members of the public, not just biologists, should be equipped with the knowledge to evaluate it. The ruling may significantly affect patients’ access to genetic testing, and it sets an important precedent for future developments in the biotechnology sector.
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