News of the WeekIntellectual Property

Drug Metabolite Patents Prompt Legal Battle

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Science  07 Aug 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5941, pp. 665
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_665a

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U.S. medical groups are lining up this week against a biotech company in a rare federal court battle over whether a specific drug test can be patented. One side says the patents apply to aspects of the human metabolism that should not become private property. The other side says such patents are vital to foster further medical advances. The outcome is likely to affect an ongoing debate over patenting natural phenomena, a theme already before the U.S. Supreme Court.