NEW YORK (Reuters) - A lawsuit challenging patents on two human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer can move forward, a U.S. federal judge ruled on Monday.
A lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union challenged patents held by Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation on grounds that genes are "products of nature" and cannot be patented.
U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet declined to dismiss the case, ruling its outcome could have implications for "the health of millions of women facing the specter of breast cancer" as well as the "future course of biomedical research."
A spokeswoman at the U.S. Attorney's office in New York, which represents the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and a lawyer for Myriad Genetics had no immediate comment.
The University of Utah Research Foundation also had no immediate comment.
The lawsuit was brought in Manhattan federal court in May on behalf of women's health groups, geneticists and scientific associations representing approximately 150,000 researchers, pathologists and laboratory professionals, the ACLU said.
The lawsuit concerns patents for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and John O'Callaghan)