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Canada Joins the Gene Patenting Debate

By Antoinette Konski of Foley & Lardner LLP

Antoinette Konski is a partner and intellectual property lawyer at Foley & Lardner, where she serves as the vice chair of the chemical and biotechnology practice group and co-chair of the life science industry team. She works with life science clients, creating and optimizing value in intellectual property portfolios. She is the editor of the Personalized Medicine Bulletin.

Canada has joined the gene patenting debate. Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (“Children’s”) sued the University of Utah Research Foundation, Genzyme Genetics, and Yale University (“Defendants”) in Canada’s Federal Court asserting that 5 patents1 assigned to Defendants (collectively the “Long QT Patents”) for compositions and methods useful in the diagnosis and/or assessment of Long QT syndrome (“Long QT”) in human patients are invalid and/or unenforceable.

Diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome

Children’s complaint describes Long QT as an inherited cardiac disorder. Patients suffering from Long QT may experience seizures, cardiac arrest or sudden death. Symptoms of the disease can present at any time. Sudden death is the first sign of the disease in 10-15 percent of affected individuals. While symptoms of the disease are severe, treatments are available for those who are timely diagnosed with the...

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