The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for the reversal of a patent currently held by a pharmaceutical company that prevents other companies from pursuing vital cancer researcher.
ACLU joined forces with the Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law to allege that patents held by Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid.
"A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene," the organization said in a statement.
"As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents," it added.
In response, Myriad Genetics, whose lab is the only place in the country where diagnostic testing can be performed, has vowed to "vigorously defend" itself against the legal challenge, according to a CNN.com report.
The lawsuit challenges genetic patenting in principle given that about 20 percent of all human genes are patented, including those linked to Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy and asthma.