Concern over BRCA2 patent

European geneticists say changes would force them to ask whether women are Ashkenazi Jews

Grit Kienzlen(grit.kienzlen@web.de)
May 15, 2005

Some Jewish women in Europe could face discrimination in access to breast cancer diagnosis as a result of changes made to a patent for the gene BRCA2, owned by Utah-based firm Myriad Genetics, geneticists said at a meeting this week. They said that the changes could mean that women seeking testing would have to disclose whether they were Ashkenazi Jews, and might preclude testing in countries without testing licenses.

At the European Society for Human Genetics Meeting in Prague this week, researchers told The Scientist that, in advance of a challenge to the patent to be heard by the European Patent Office in Munich on June 29, Myriad has limited its claims for the patent and changed the phrasing of the related documentation.

The new wording covers the use of a certain DNA probe that comprises one single mutation "for diagnosing a predisposition to breast cancer in Ashkenazi Jewish...

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