The US Supreme Court has ruled that DNA, ‘the building blocks of human life’, cannot be patented.

The unanimous judgement, which reverses three decades of patent awards, will deny biomedical companies billions of pounds in revenue.

The court held that human DNA was a ‘product of nature’, a basic tool of scientific and technological work, thereby placing it beyond the domain of patent protection. It struck down patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc, a Utah company, on two genes linked to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

But it also said that synthetic genetic material could be patented, in a mixed ruling for the biotechnology industry, which has argued that patents are necessary to recoup the billions of dollars it spends on research.

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