Patent War for Prenatal Tests

Four companies who have developed noninvasive genetic prenatal tests are fighting over who has the patent rights to the new and revolutionary techniques.

By | June 28, 2012

stock.xchng, bsilder


This year alone has seen the arrival of three noninvasive tests for analyzing the DNA of a fetus, with a fourth expected to become available in the coming months. These new tests can detect genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy, and could soon represent a market of more than $1 billion, according to Nature. With such high financial stakes, the four companies that have made these tests available are currently embroiled in a legal battle over who can patent the underlying technique, which involves scanning maternal blood for fetal DNA.

Back in January, Sequenom, a genetic diagnostics manufacturer based in San Diego, California, filed a lawsuit against San Jose-based Ariosa for patent infringement. Sequenom released its MaterniT21 test in October of last year and Ariosa launched the Harmony™ prenatal test in early May. Both tests detect Down syndrome and other common fetal trisomies. In response to the lawsuit, Ariosa, along with Stanford University and two other companies in California, countersued, arguing that there were enough differences in their techniques to not be classified as a breach of patent.

“If a single company has a monopoly on the market, it will essentially be able to dictate the standard of care and the quality of care,” Mildred Cho, a bioethicist at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, told Nature. “The bigger policy issue is whether society should allow monopolies on medical practice, especially for medical technologies that benefited from public funding.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. Man Receives First In Vivo Gene-Editing Therapy
  2. Long-term Study Finds That the Pesticide Glyphosate Does Not Cause Cancer
  3. Researchers Build a Cancer Immunotherapy Without Immune Cells
  4. Research Links Gut Health to Neurodegeneration
    The Nutshell Research Links Gut Health to Neurodegeneration

    Rodent studies presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this week tie pathologies in the gastrointestinal tract or microbiome composition with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.