Myriad European BRCA1 patent upheld in amended form

26 November 2008

The European Patent Office (EPO) has upheld an appeal by company Myriad Genetics with respect to European patent No. 699754, which relates to a "Method for diagnosing a predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer" by detection of mutations within the BRCA1 gene. The original patent was awarded to Myriad, the University of Utah Research Foundation and the United States of America in January 2001 following discovery of BRCA1, but it was opposed by several groups. The EPO subsequently revoked the patent in May 2004 (see previous news), but Myriad lodged an appeal against this decision.

Now the EPO Technical Board of Appeal has reversed that decision and reinstated the patent, but in an amended form (see press release). The patent now relates to diagnostic methods for the detection of a predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer caused by a specific group of frame-shift mutations within BRCA1, but does not include about the normal or mutated forms of the BRCA1 gene itself. Other patents lodged by Myriad relating to BRCA1 have previously been amended (see previous news).

Earlier this month the Technical Board of Appeal also decided to maintain in significantly amended form Myriad’s European patent No. 705903, relating to "Mutations in the 17q-linked breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene", originally granted in May 2001 and significantly limited in 2005 (see previous news).

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