“But I Found It First!” Life Science Company Seeks SCOTUS Review Over Patent Eligibility of Natural Discoveries

materniBy Miriam Swedlow

On March 21, 2016, Sequenom, Inc. asked the Supreme Court to review a decision from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that rendered invalid the company’s patent directed towards detecting paternally inherited cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in a pregnant woman’s blood.

In 1996, two doctors discovered the presence of cffDNA in maternal plasma and serum. Once discovered, the doctors used established laboratory techniques to separate and amplify the genetic material to identify paternally inherited DNA and perform genetic diagnostic tests on it. Sequenom, Inc. commercialized the method as its MaterniT21 prenatal diagnostic test. Utilizing the test allows pregnant women to screen for many prenatal defects without having to undergo dangerous and invasive procedures into the uterus. Continue reading