The Genome Defense: Inside the Epic Legal Battle To Determine Who Owns Your DNA

Algonquin. Oct. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9781616209681. $27.95. LAW
Contresas (law, Univ. of Utah) examines the epic courtroom battle to determine who owns human genetic material. He dives into the work of American Civil Liberties Union attorney Chris Hansen and his team, who sued Myriad Genetics after discovering that the company had received authorization to access genetic material from the U.S. government, which it used to develop and patent genetic testing for diseases. Over the years, one of the key drivers motivating the team of lawyers was the realization that breast and ovarian cancer patients were being charged for testing at exorbitant rates—because Myriad had patented the BRCA gene. The attorneys’ work resulted in the landmark Supreme Court case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. In 2013, the court ruled that genetic material cannot be patented. Interviewing more than 100 people involved in the case, Contreras offers in-depth coverage of the legal battle and deftly explores the legal, medical, and corporate angles of the story.
VERDICT Timely, relevant, and significant. Hand to readers of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
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