Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against patenting naturally occurring genes. That may lower the cost of testing for the so-called breast-cancer gene, a test that Angelina Jolie could afford but many women could not.
Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that naturally occurring genes cannot be patented. The decision, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, found that Myriad Genetics–a company known for isolating two human genes that make it easier to determine which women have a higher risk of ovarian and breast cancer–could not patent the genes.
The issue entered the cultural landscape after actress Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed that she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy. “My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” wrote Jolie. The autobiographical piece also served as a rallying cry to raise awareness about the exorbitant cost of the test. Jolie noted that right now “at more than $3,000 in the United States, [testing] remains an obstacle for many women.”
The Supreme Court ruling could mean that more women, with less money, could have the chance to prevent breast or ovarian cancer. Join All In with Chris tonight for a discussion on the potential effects.