Researchers have welcomed the announcement this week (February 11) that the charity Cancer Research UK had obtained a Europe-wide patent on the cancer susceptibility gene BRCA2 and will allow publicly owned laboratories to use the gene free of charge.

The patent awarded by the European Patent Office covers all attempts to sequence the BRCA2 gene or to test for damaged or inactive variants. It will extend the access currently available to researchers in the UK, where the commercial subsidiary of Cancer Research UK (Cancer Research Technology Limited) already holds a patent on the gene. The charity suggested that it will significantly boost cancer research throughout the continent. Any laboratory wanting to investigate the gene would usually have to pay a license fee to the patent holder, but Cancer Research Technology has agreed in principle to waive the fees for all public laboratories that apply to it.

Peter Rigby, chief...

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